JULIE BERTRAND/Independent reporter
Ever since the Town of Stettler announced in November 2010 that it was planning to switch from chlorine to chloramination in water treatment process, doubts have been expressed regarding the effect of the process on people and the environment.
Chloramine or combined chlorine is a combination of chlorine and a small amount of ammonia.
The switch was supposed to be made at the end of 2010, but it was postponed due to delays in upgrading the water treatment plan.
Melissa Robbins, director of operations for the Town of Stettler, believes that the switch will now be made in mid to late May.
“The processes are all in place. We’re just finalizing and tweaking everything right now for the programming,” said Robbins.
“We will give residents at least a two weeks’ notice through the newspaper, Q14 and we hope to do a mail-out as well. I’m drafting those right now.”
As for the residents’ doubts regarding the safety of the chloramination process, Robbins is quick to allay fears.
“We have to meet Alberta Environment’s regulations. Chloramination is an approved system on their part,” said Robbins.
“When we do the switch, we will have specific parameters, we will have to meet with limits and all that kind of stuff.”
Robbins warns people not to believe everything they read on the Internet.
“Sometimes, there is a lot of fear mongering on the Internet, even with chlorine and chloramine,” said Robbins.
The town has decided to switch to chloramination because it provides a much more stable mode of disinfection than chlorine.
“It allows us to distribute water with an assured quality of disinfection in the water so we can go all the way to Castor and Coronation without a worry that the water that they’re getting is deteriorating in quality,” explained Robbins.
Chloramination is not a new process. It has been used before by other municipalities in the province, such as Coronation and Castor.
Robbins has also good news for people who have been complaining about the water’s taste and smell.
“With chloramine, you can’t taste the chlorine in the water and the smell will supposedly be weaker,” said Robbins.
The town, in an effort to inform the concerned citizens, placed a document on its website explaining chloramination and debunking some of the myths surrounding it.
Chloramine-treated water will remain safe to drink, cook with, bathe in and use for cleaning for human beings and animals.
It is only harmful if it enters the bloodstream directly, but remains safe to use on open wounds.
The change to chloramine may cause some rubber or synthetic rubber material in household plumbing fixtures to degrade faster.
Just like with chlorine, it can contain risks or problems for reptiles, aquarium fish, dialysis centers, and industrial water users who need a more highly processed water supply.
Pet owners should contact pet stores for more information, and dialysis patients should talk to their physician.