The argument in favour of chlorination: a purportedly fool-proof method of ensuring contaminant-free drinking water at the tap. But at what cost? We are required to consume low-level quantities of a potent oxidant – chlorine attacks organic matter indiscriminately, and cumulatively the effects on the human body must be quite profound.
Living with diverse levels of “risk” is a fact of life, has always been so. Merely crossing the street introduces risk, but we do not expect it to be made fool-proof – only that reasonable precautions are exercised (in street design and in pedestrian behaviour). While the consequences of an accident are wide, it is mitigated by the relative likelihood. Reasonable and not extreme caution is sufficient, a balance is kept.
Chlorination, not based on conclusive proof of its long-term health safety, falls far short of a balanced approach. The City of Chilliwack, blessed with an natural water source of extremely high purity, has developed a water distribution system that produces an equally high level of water safety at the tap. City administrators have done a stellar job of informing the public, and has its trust. An informed public, knowledgeable of the facts in the matter, would likely accept the tiny margin of risk involved in turning on the tap. It has done so for decades, without relevant incident.
The fight is not lost, because it hasn’t yet been waged. I don’t intend to take this lying down. Do you?