Local News

Bad weather delays chloramine switch

An engineer who was going to assist Ketchikan Public Utilities in its switch to chloramine water disinfection wasn’t able to land Monday morning because of weather, and ended up in Wrangell.

Water Division Manager John Kleinegger says the engineer landed in time to catch an Alaska Marine Highway System ferry headed toward Ketchikan, and was due to arrive Monday evening.

Kleinegger says the utility might start adding ammonia to the system Monday evening, or perhaps Tuesday evening.

He says chloramine-treated water will first show up in the Bear Valley area, and then will move down Schoenbar Road toward downtown. Some neighborhoods, such as those above Baranof in the Carlanna area, won’t get chloramine-treated water until later in the week, because of the time it takes for the water to move through the system.

Chloramine is a mixture of chlorine and a small amount of ammonia. The city uses chlorine as the primary disinfectant now, but because of high levels of regulated byproducts in Ketchikan’s water, the federal Environmental Protection Agency is requiring that the city make some kind of change.

The city chose chloramine, and has been working toward the new system for about a decade.

A group called United Citizens for Better Water formed this winter to oppose the switch, primarily citing concerns over possible health effects. That group is spearheading a ballot initiative process that, if approved, would ask voters to prohibit the city from using chloramine.

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