Depending on who asks, Greenville's water is either safe or unsafe to drink

The Madison County Record Dec. 10, 2011, 6:44am

You can't have it both ways.

You can't stop making monthly payments on a house or car and still keep it. You can't compete in triathlons and still draw disability.

You can't get married and still appear as a contestant on The Dating Game. The Newlywed Game, sure, but not The Dating Game.

You definitely cannot sue a company for contaminating your community's drinking water and also tell the community that it's safe to drink.

Theoretically, of course, you can do all these contradictory things – and unscrupulous people do – but somebody will call you out eventually, and then you've got some explaining to do.

Ask the members of the Greenville City Council. They got caught trying to have it both ways. Their explanations are provoking guffaws in southern Illinois.

The Greenville City Council is suing Syngenta, makers of weedkiller atrazine, for contaminating the local reservoir. Simultaneously, the Council is assuring the community that water traveling from the reservoir into their homes and out of their taps is safe to drink.

Which is it? Safe or unsafe? It can't be both.

Unable to entertain two mutually exclusive propositions at the same time, Syngenta has moved for summary judgment against Greenville in the six-state class action suit the city seeks to lead.

"Greenville never warned its customers that its water was unsafe, nor did it order them to stop drinking the water because of the presence of atrazine in the water," Syngenta's attorney told U.S. District Judge Phil Gilbert.

The defense presented a table of quarterly tests going back to 1994, showing that the city's water had not exceeded federal safety standard of three parts per billion in those 17 years and had no parts per billion--as in none--the past 10 quarters.

Someone needs to tell the members of the Greenville City Council that they can't have it both ways.

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