Erin Brockovich Attends Meeting to Discuss Chloramine in Stockton Water

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The debate over how Stockton treats its water, and how it treats its citizens, got a little star power tonight.

Erin Brockovich, famed water activist played by Julia Roberts in the movie that bears her name, was the marquee speaker at a forum in Stockton tonight focused on water treatment.

It immediately became clear that water treatment is no simple matter.

Even in water that the Federal Government says is safe to drink, there are compounds and chemicals beyond the understanding of any but the most sophisticated scientist.

But explaining all that is not why Erin Brockovich is in Stockton tonight. She's here because people who haven't made water science their lives, will instead have to make a decision about who to trust.

"You can make a difference in your own back yard. Please," Brockovich said to a cheering crowd.

The City of Stockton started adding Chloramines to its water in January, after
that water failed purity tests.

City staff says the chemical, a combination of chlorine and ammonia, is safe. It's used in scores of other communities, and has been for decades.

"The main purpose of this is to prevent those water-born pathogens and of those diseases any of those viruses, bacterias, from coming to you and you then ingesting them," said Christina Fugazi, Stockton's Vice Mayor.

Brockovich and her colleague Bob Bowcock said Chloramines are only the cheapest, most expedient solution to Stockton's water problem. But that they are bad for public health, especially for pregnant women.

Many came to tonight's forum, with their minds already made up.

"I'm willing to pay the .75 cent more a month. I've got it in my pocket right now!" Shouted one man, who was responding to a cost estimate, suggested by Bowcock, on an alternative treatment method.

Still others in the town of Stockton, that's faced so much adversity already, are just trying to figure who they should trust.

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