Spotlight: Don’t be afraid of facts on water company
By Elliott Murray
Peoria Journal Star, Letter to Editor
Apr 22, 2017
Thanks to Lori Horstman for Illinois-American Water’s response (March 26) to Cynthia Hsieh’s March 18 letter, “Publicly owned water company makes sense.”
I understand that Ms. Horstman’s job, as superintendent of production for IAWC, is to speak for the private water company. Cynthia and I, however, are citizen volunteers who served together on a League of Women Voters committee that studied whether a public water system better serves Peorians than a private system. As independent volunteers, we have nothing to gain personally in our advocacy.
It was disheartening to read Ms. Horstman’s conclusion that Ms. Hsieh’s comments about chloramine were “irresponsible and inaccurate.” In fact, they came straight from IAWC’s website: “Water with chloramines is safe to drink, though it is not to be used in fish tanks or for dialysis patients.” And it is IAWC that states: “Chloramines in water cannot be removed by boiling, aerating or reverse osmosis.”
Taking IAWC at its word, it’s fair to ask if chloramine is unsafe for fish and dialysis patients, why is it acceptable for others?
Our committee had few questions with IAWC’s service, though it’s extremely difficult to get information from the state-regulated monopoly about its local operations, investments, rate structure or financials.
What we question — and what was unanswered in Ms. Horstmann’s response — is why Peorians are paying twice the national average for water. East Peorians, who use much of the same water from the Illinois River, pay substantially less for their water. East Peoria has a public water system as do most cities around Peoria — Peoria Heights, Washington, Morton, Metamora, Normal, etc. All have substantially lower rates. What do they know that Peorians don’t?
Some 85 percent of Americans get public water. We applaud the Peoria district for not having any safety violations last year. That’s their job, after all. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for its sister companies in California, Kentucky, Texas, Arizona and Pennsylvania, which have had serious violations.
We just want to be certain Peorians aren’t exposed to the same possible hazards.
The League of Women Voters only wants Peorians to be educated about the pros and cons of public and private water systems. We want the City Council to do the due diligence necessary to get all the facts so they can make an informed decision. Let’s not be afraid of finding out the facts.
Elliott Murray is a retired child psychiatrist and a member of the League of Women Voters Water Study Committee. He lives in Peoria.
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