State orders disinfecting of all public water supplies to reduce threat to immuno-suppressed Vermonters
By Guy Page
April 15, 2020 – The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation [DEC] last month ordered Vermont public water systems to disinfect water to protect immuno-suppressed Vermonters at risk from Covid-19.
Not all public water supplies are treated with disinfectants, although all are tested regularly to insure quality. Chlorine or similar chemicals are the standard disinfectant. Ultraviolet light also is recognized. The water disinfection order is printed on the DEC website:
“Instruction to Disinfect – The Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Division is requiring all community and NTNCs to disinfect, if not already doing so. The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking-water supplies and based on current evidence, the risk to water supplies is low. This measure is being required out of an abundance of caution so that users of the water, who happen to have COVID-19 are not further compromised due to other pathogens that may be present in the drinking water. A properly operated disinfection treatment facility provides an additional barrier of public health protection for the water system’s users, and the Division believes this additional protection is prudent and appropriate at this time. The requirement to provide continuous disinfection will stand until the end of the Governor’s Emergency Declaration. Currently that is anticipated to be April 15, 2020, however, it may be extended as necessary.”
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Not all public drinking water supplies are chlorinated. For example, the Town of Chester did not chlorinate until required to do so by the state order. Residents started noticing a chlorine taste to its water in early April. The Chester Telegraph asked Gov. Scott and Health Dept. Commissioner Mark Levine about the chlorination order at a press conference last week; both said they were unaware of it.
Adding chlorine or chloramine (chlorine with an additive) have been controversial in recent decades, due to perceived health side-effects of both, Vermonters for a Clean Environment has documented.
Highlights from today’s Covid-19 press conference:
Relaxing of farmers’ market restrictions coming – The Valley Reporter’s Lisa Loomis asked when the State will allow farmers’ markets to open. “To put everyone together in the traditional pattern is just not beneficial at this time,” Gov. Scott said. But over the next week or two – and possibly this Friday – the State will be announcing some relaxation of restrictions, he said.
Economic recovery task force meetings closed to press – meetings of the governor’s newly formed Economic Mitigation and Recovery Task Force will not be open to the press or public, Gov. Scott confirmed. In response to a question by Sean Cunningham of the Chester Telegraph, he said it’s an advisory committee so is therefore exempt from the Open Meeting Law.
Governor tested, wearing mask? – Mike Donoghue of the Islander asked Gov. Scott if he has been tested for Covid-19, and will he start wearing a mask. “I do wear a mask when I’m out. I wear one into the press conference, and I take it off when I am speaking.” He has not been tested, but takes his temperature daily, he said.
Weddings, graduations, proms this year? Will large social gatherings be allowed again this year, Greg Lamoureux of the County Courier asked. “Hard to say. Everything is determined by the modeling,” Scott said. Bans will remain for at least the next 3-4 weeks, he said. Noting that social distancing bans began with large numbers of over 500 people, and then worked their way down, “We may have to work our way out the same way we got in.”