No need for panic over water: politi­cians

MHA says he’d drink water, even though it con­tained high lev­els of THMs, HAAs

The Packet (Clarenville) - - Front page - BY GARY KEAN THE WESTERN STAR [email protected]­ern­star.com Twitter: WS_GaryKean

The long-term so­lu­tion is not yet clear, but Scott Reid says there’s no need to over­re­act to con­cern­ing lev­els of dis­in­fec­tion byprod­ucts in the drink­ing water of some com­mu­ni­ties.

The Lib­eral leg­is­la­ture mem­ber for St. Ge­orge’s-Hum­ber is re­spon­si­ble for the elec­toral dis­trict that con­tains Pasadena and Steady Brook, both of which have lev­els of tri­halomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs), con­sid­ered ex­ces­sive by Health Canada’s stan­dards.

Th­ese byprod­ucts are cre­ated in the chem­i­cal re­ac­tion be­tween chlo­rine and naturally oc­cur­ring or­ganic ma­te­ri­als in water sources. Long-term ex­po­sure to them — through drink­ing, in­hal­ing and skin ab­sorp­tion — has been linked to cancer, re­pro­duc­tion is­sues and other health prob­lems.

Reid said it’s up to each per­son to de­cide for them­selves if they want to con­sume the water in their towns if the lev­els are higher than they should be.

“I would have ab­so­lutely no prob­lem drink­ing the water in Pasadena,” he said.

Reid says he has spo­ken with com­mu­ni­ties within his dis­trict, par­tic­u­larly Pasadena as the largest com­mu­nity out­side the St. John’s area on the list of towns with ex­ces­sive lev­els in this prov­ince.

“It’s a se­ri­ous is­sue, but it’s not an is­sue for panic,” said Reid. “At this point, we are not clear what the so­lu­tion is, but there will be one over time.”

The prov­ince re­cently ap­proved a new tech­nol­ogy for dis­in­fect­ing drink­ing water that uses hy­dro­gen per­ox­ide, rather than chlo­rine. Reid the pi­lot projects done with this tech­nol­ogy is some­thing com­mu­ni­ties can con­sider as each de­cides on the best ap­proach to low­er­ing the lev­els of THMs and HAAs in their water.

“It’s a se­ri­ous is­sue, but it’s not an is­sue for panic.”

- MHA Scott Reid

Pre­mier Dwight Ball rep­re­sents the dis­trict of Hum­berGros Morne, which in­cludes St. Paul’s, the western New­found­land com­mu­nity with the high­est read­ings of THMs in the lat­est round of pro­vin­cial mon­i­tor­ing.

He said he hasn’t been ap­proached by any of the com­mu­ni­ties in his dis­trict on this par­tic­u­lar is­sue, but knows they are all deal­ing with the De­part­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs and En­vi­ron­ment in terms of on­go­ing mon­i­tor­ing of water qual­ity.

“Yes, ab­so­lutely,” Ball said when asked if he’d drink the water in St. Paul’s. “… I would cer­tainly drink the water.”

The pre­mier said the prov­ince’s pol­icy right now is to en­sure com­mu­ni­ties are chlo­ri­nat­ing their water to en­sure it is safe for im­me­di­ate con­sump­tion and to work with any towns hav­ing an is­sue achiev­ing that ob­jec­tive.

He ac­knowl­edged there is new tech­nol­ogy, re­cently ap­proved for use in New­found­land and Labrador, that dis­in­fects water with hy­dro­gen per­ox­ide and doesn’t use any chlo­rine.

Ball said the prov­ince would work on cost-shar­ing ar­range­ments with any com­mu­ni­ties in­ter­ested in pur­su­ing new tech­nolo­gies to ad­dress their water qual­ity is­sues.

“What’s im­por­tant here is safe drink­ing water,” he said.

The Western Star has re­peat­edly re­quested in­ter­views on this sub­ject from other western New­found­land MHAs whose dis­tricts have com­mu­ni­ties with ex­ces­sive lev­els of dis­in­fec­tion byprod­ucts in their water, in­clud­ing Ed­die Joyce, the in­de­pen­dent mem­ber for Hum­ber-Bay of Islands, and John Finn, the Lib­eral mem­ber for Stephenville-Port au Port .

While both Finn and Joyce in­di­cated via email they would be will­ing to do an in­ter­view, nei­ther had fol­lowed up as of dead­line Fri­day.

The Western Star also re­peat­edly re­quested an in­ter­view with Health and Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Min­is­ter John Hag­gie on the is­sue, but there has been no re­ply from his de­part­ment at all.

SALTWIRE FILE PHOTO

“What’s im­por­tant here is safe drink­ing water,” said Dwight Ball.

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