Sandy City’s Utilities Director On Paid Leave During Water Investigation
Feb 20, 2019, 8:56 PM
SANDY, Utah – The director of Sandy City’s public utilities department went on immediate paid administrative leave Wednesday as the city starts an investigation into the handling of a water contamination issue.
“Due to the distraction of the media, I feel my ability to direct the public utilities department is being hampered, so I will be stepping away while the investigation is being conducted,” said director Tom Ward.
Ward said he supports the city’s decision to bring in an independent investigator, who will examine how his department responded to a fluoride pump malfunction that contaminated the water supply in a section of the city from Feb. 5 through Feb. 7.
“My first responsibility is public health,” Ward said during the announcement. “I am confident that my staff and I have restored public health in the drinking water.”
Ward’s leave does not have an end date, city staff confirmed, and will last as long the investigation takes.
Mayor Kurt Bradburn said the investigation with provide the city a better understanding of what happened.
“As the mayor of Sandy, I support Tom’s decision to step away at this time,” Bradburn said. “It’s important that we allow the fact-gathering process to play out and the best way to do that is through an independent investigation.”
On Feb. 15, a week after the city notified affected residents of the fluoride contamination, lab results showed extremely high levels of copper and lead in the water supply. The dangerous levels were due to the fluoride corroding pipes and fixtures, which allowed the metals to leach into the water, according to Utah’s Division of Drinking Water.
Sandy has told residents that the water is safe to drink, and this week paid for testing of 2,800 homes. As of Wednesday, 1,100 results were returned with only one test showing poor water quality, according to the city.