Poisoning with Chloramine -- and a 33
The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority is more than halfway through introducing a new chemical disinfectant to the city’s water supply, but the planned change has sparked anger among some residents who say the new compound isn’t proven safe, and could cause dangerous lead leaching. Chloramine is NASTY, and this is a disturbing trend.
Last month, the RWSA announced its decision to replace chlorine with chloramine, a compound of chlorine and ammonia, in the second phase of water treatment in the city. According to RWSA Executive Director Thomas Frederick, the switch was prompted by stricter regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency. The RWSA currently uses chlorine for both the initial disinfectant process and stage-two “backup” water cleansing, meant to keep drinking water pathogen-free as it travels through pipes. But Frederick said chlorine produces too many toxic byproducts to be an acceptable backup disinfectant, and according to the EPA, chloramine is an acceptable substitute.
In a memo to the RWSA Board of Directors, Frederick reported the EPA has written that when proper chlorine to ammonia ratios and appropriate pH balance are maintained, chloramine can be a “practical and effective secondary disinfectant.”
The memo detailed costs of chloramine in comparison to other systems, with the chloramine process being the least costly at $3.3 million in initial costs.