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Page | of 2 Editorial: Local lawmakers right to urge ‘full review' of. response ity water ‘September 04, 2009 05:55 am With Gloucester, al fits residents and its businesses heading into a thnd week under an order to bol their city water, the foeus ofall officials and personnel dealing withthe emergency obviously must remain on| solving the problem, ‘As we've noted, providing good, clean water that is safe fr drinking is indeed one ofthe most very basis services any municipal government owes its residents, especially the homeowners and business ovimers who ae paying frit. ‘But while state Sen. Bruce Tarr and state Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante ate right to ask the state's Department of Environmental Protection to intensify” its role in addressing the crisis, our sate lawmakers are als right to seek a"fll review" ofthe origins ofthe water emergency, and the city’s response ti While it emains absolutely vital to restore water quality thas confirmed tobe safe for drinking, is equally important for residents to ultimately believe that their city officials, elected or appointed, have responded roperiy "While restoring safe drinking waters clearly our frst priority," Tre and Ferrante wroe, “we also believe that accountability and transparency must be attached to this entire situation.” ‘They'e absolutely right —and this isnt about pointing fingers or finding people to blame. Its about restoring the confidence of residents that the city's response was proper —and tat, fit wasn, that changes be pt in place to ensure officals would know how to better respond inthe future ‘The simple fact is, many residents have litle or no confidence that's the ease now. ‘The city might not be expected to have the scientific expertise to pinpoint total coliform counts tha, even ‘without any presence of F. Coli or other fecal bacteria, produced a hazard significant enough forthe DEP to issue the boil order. But residents have every reason to wonder why, with coliform counts signaling bacterial trouble as early as Aug. 11 and Aug. 15, officals stil insisted through the early days ofan outdoor water ban thatthe water Was safe for drinking and other interal use. Atte center of that perception sits the now-infamous official Aug. 20 statement — issued from Mayor Carolyn Kirk’s office — noting that "According to Public health Director Jack Vondras, the public water supply continues tobe safe to drink and is being regularly monitored to ensure health and human safety. ‘an emergency "chronology" issued later, city officals noted that statement was issued based on the city’s failing the water tests of Aug. 17, and had not yet received results from the 19th, when another flue led the DEP to clamp down the boi-water order. But sill unexplained isthe fact that, according tothe same city chronology —the one outlined atthe tp of Page I in Wednesday's Times —Glouceste's drinking water had ‘ot tested clear of coliform dating back to Aug. 1 hntp://wwww 9/4200 Ecitorial: Local lawmakers right to urge ull review of ety water response Page 2of2 ‘The mayor, who has pulled together a par of "water summits" with DEP officials, has also now called fora public *information” session regarding the city’s water criss next Tuesday, from 5 to 7 pam. a the Rose Baker Senior Center. Hopefully, tht will address many ofthe questions on residents’ minds — including whether the city ean provide citizeus wis Uolled water lake other steps this rss continues, ‘But in asking the DEP to conduct its review ofthe emergency and the city’s response, Tare and Ferrante have rightly set the stage forthe state to take an independent look at the city’s handling ofthis critical halt, public safety and economic issue — and suggest what changes the city might have to make to prevent this fom happening aga Indeed, Tarr and Ferrante have made the right all. Lets hope the state hears and heeds it Copyright © 1999-2008 en ine http:/wrww html/resources_printstory 9/4/2000