For several years now some residents in Vernon haven't been able to drink the city's water because of high levels of nitrate but that's not a problem anymore.
The city has reduced the nitrate levels but the process is costing a lot of money. The city has been providing free bottled water to residents who need a low nitrate diet, like babies under 6 months of age, pregnant women and the elderly with immune deficiencies. All because the nitrate levels of the city's water re 14 milligrams per liter and the federal government requires 10 milligrams per liter. But that's no longer the case.
"We're glad that we can go back to telling everyone that our water is completely safe to drink for anybody. It's always been safe in my opinion. I've always drank it," said Mitch Grant, the city manager of Vernon.
Now that everyone can drink the water, Grant says tomorrow the city will suspend the free bottled water program. But city officials would rather keep the program running. The city has been forced to spend $4,000 a week for salt that's used to bring down nitrate levels.
Grant says, "The free bottled water that we were providing was a couple of thousand dollars a month but now we're looking at $16,000 a month."
Recently city officials decided to raise the town's water rates to make up for some of the money being spent in water treatment.
"We're tightening our belt. We just keep tightening it and tightening it to try to keep from having to charge our costumers more. We have a competitive rate and stuff like that so we're trying to keep it at that," said the city manager.
But ultimately what officials are trying to do is have the federal government lower its requirements because Grant says, there's no proof that nitrate levels higher than 10 milligrams per liter are dangerous.