HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 14) - Since Supertyphoon Pongsona, Guam Department of Public Health has advised restaurants to use twice as much chlorine as necessary to disinfect their drinking water.

But apparently the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association (GHRA) wasn't swallowing it.

"That's more chlorine than in a swimming pool," said GHRA president David Tydingco, adding that GHRA was following more moderate recommendations put out after Typhoon Chata'an in July.

The island currently is under a boil-water notice as officials repair the water system following the Dec. 8 Supertyphoon Pongsona. Other methods such as chlorination also are used to disinfect water. But the guidelines issued for Guam restaurants after Pongsona were considered enough to super-chlorinate your water, used in cases when the source of water is unknown or if the water is visibly dirty.

"That was real extreme and we are correcting that," said Angel Marquez, Guam Environmental Protection Agency drinking water program director. Marquez said in an area such as Guam the higher count of chlorine is not harmful to human health, although in other areas of the United States natural conditions in the water can create harmful results.

"We had a meeting with Public Health to come up (with a) better dosage that could be applied to those establishments," he said.

Marquez said that meeting was not a result of a recent e-mail sent to government agencies and GHRA from water experts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Those officials, who could not be reached yesterday, wrote that the amount being recommended was an "extremely high dosage."

The amount advised after Pongsona was one teaspoon per five gallons of water. Both Marquez and the U.S. EPA water experts said one teaspoon for every 10 gallons is the proper amount. U.S. EPA officials wrote that super-chlorination requires dechlorinating the water after.

"Our concern is that readers may assume that the prescribed dosage is proper for direct consumption, when in fact this level of chlorine is far more than can, or should, be consumed directly," U.S. EPA officials wrote.

Tydingco said he is not worried about the high chlorine recommendation. He said GHRA is more concerned about Public Health developing a set guidelines for restaurants to gain exemptions from the boil water notice, such as certified ultraviolet-water filtration systems.

Marquez said those new guidelines are near finished and should be released this week.

January 14, 2003

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