Yesterday, on a voice vote, the Vermont Senate passed legislation that studies alternatives to chloramine in drinking water. The bill, a revised version of H. 80, outlines an engineering study of disinfection methods that the Champlain Water District (CWD) and other water districts in the state could use instead of processes that rely on chloramine as a secondary disinfectant. House concurrence is expected later this week. The study would be supported by funding from the EPA, secured through efforts by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. An EPA contractor would perform the study.The legislation passed after months of work in the State House by People Concerned About Chloramine (PCAC), and Vermonters for a Clean Environment (VCE). Its passage comes during national Drinking Water Week, and highlights the serious issues facing water systems around the country.PCAC coordinator Ellen Powell expressed both frustration and hope as the legislation moved forward. This won t end the suffering, but it will hopefully get us more information, she said. We re counting on the promises we have gotten that the study will be truly independent, and answer our specific questions. If it does that, then it will be helpful to everyone, she said.The two groups continue to advocate for a multi-year moratorium to allow those suffering to have some relief, and to allow the CWD to work with regulators and community members to find a better way to provide clean, safe water to all their customers. A time out is really the only way we are going to get a solution to this problem, VCE Executive Director Annette Smith said. If we didn t think it was possible and safe, we wouldn t support it. This legislation will help us get us more information to assure legislators that a moratorium is both feasible and prudent, she stated.Chloramine has been linked to hundreds of reported cases of skin, breathing, and digestive problems since the CWD began using it in April 2006. Chloramine use has also been linked to fish kills, infrastructure degradation, and elevated lead levels in some systems around the country. Reports of health impacts have been reported in over a dozen states. PCAC and VCE are working with activists in New York, Pennsylvania, California, and other states on the issue.The CWD is currently the only system using chloramine in Vermont, though other systems, including Rutland City and Bennington, are reported to be considering its use. Even though the CWD and regulators continue to deny the connection between the tap water and health issues customers are experiencing, legislators are starting to listen to the people. For that, we are grateful, Smith concluded.(See p. 2484 of May 6 House Calendar for text: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2010/calendar/hc090506.pdf(link is external) )Source: Vermonters for a Clean Environment, Inc.