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4/5/2014
Water change

Ketchikan's water will be only safer next week when the city upgrades its disinfecting system.

The new system will reduce the likelihood of carcinogens in the water; carcinogens cause cancer.

The Environmental Protection Agency is requiring the city to upgrade.

The switch to the new system begins on Monday, and it will take five days to fully implement.

As with any change, not everyone will be comfortable with it. People take different points of view all of the time, and, at some point, one view takes precedence. But, if people follow the city's guidelines in regard to adapting to the new system, the change can be smooth and effective.

During the transition to the new system, it might be possible to smell or taste more chlorine in the water than has been. As in days gone by when we used to run the tap to get discoloration out of the water, it's simply a matter of letting the tap run to flush out the first newly treated water. After the system has been in place, it shouldn't be necessary to continue to do that.

The water will be safe to drink, to wash in, to cook with and to water houseplants, according to the city, state and federal governments.

The United States' water-using population exceeds 300 million people. About 60 million of them consume water disinfected using the same system as the city is adopting. It's been tried and it continues to be used in communities throughout the nation.

Many of us travel Outside or even to other Alaska communities. We rarely, if ever, call ahead to ask how a community treats its water, and we shower using those cities' water. It would be unusual to not shower while on vacations and business and other types of trips, and attribute the behavior to a community's water.

We also, while visiting other communities — particularly those in the United States — often drink the water served at the start of a meal in restaurants. Most often it is clear, cold and refreshing, as restaurants expect it to be, and it usually tastes perfectly fine, too.

That's not to say that we don't drink bottled water while traveling as well, but that usually augments instead of replaces the water supplied through community systems.

Millions upon millions of Americans drink and use water disinfected as Ketchikan's will be. This disinfectant method isn't new, just out-of-the-box technology. It's been around for decades under the watchful eye of scientists and water experts, and it's still recommended 50 years later.

We won't be scientists, we won't be water experts and our expertise won't be in water quality, but, it is appreciated that there are those who own that knowledge.

The city has depended on those experts, and its leadership concluded that the new system will provide safe water for the community — water they and their families will be consuming, too.