Thousands Of Emails Depict Sandy Reaction To Water Crisis

Mar 6, 2019, 10:44 PM | Updated: 10:57 pm

SANDY, Utah — KSL received thousands of emails to, from and between Sandy City employees regarding the fluoride water contamination on February 5 and their response.

Emails show the City waited three days before contacting the Utah Division of Drinking Water.

The city’s Public Utilities Director, Tom Ward, is currently taking a leave because of the response to the water crisis. Ward’s emails show an initial response to the problem but it appears in some emails that the issue is being downplayed.

In an email Ward sent himself on February 8, he says that public utilities staff went door to door on February 7 to tell people to “flush their taps for a couple of minutes.”

There’s no mention in that email that all faucets in the home should be run for 30 minutes.

This was also after several people had already contacted the city and called 911, including a family with a sick infant, to report bad tasting water and illnesses on February 6 and 7.

Here’s a brief timeline from some of the emails sent those first few days:

  • February 8: City employees report the problem to Utah Division of Drinking Water. This is the first time it’s reported to the state. Marie Owens, the division’s director, attaches a “Do Not Ingest” notification to emails that needs to be given to the public. Instead, Ward asks staff to post a different notice. It removes the “do not ingest” warning.
  • February 9-11: Emails reveal Sandy City doesn’t test any water.
  • February 9: Ward receives an email from Ryan Dearing, Environmental Scientist Division of Drinking Water. It says: “…there was a report of a kid peeing in a toilet and the water turning blue. As in the attached report, my thought is that it is from copper that was stripped from the interior plumbing. This is why ongoing metals testing is important. The affected homes could have elevated levels of lead and copper.”

In subsequent emails, Owens’ involvement in the crisis increases and reverse 911 calls and notifications sent out February 15 to alert the affected areas of the potential problems.

The excess fluoride sent into the water can potentially cause lead and copper poisoning from pipes corroding in homes and getting into the water.

The state says that as long as the pipes are flushed, the issue should be resolved.

More recent emails reveal that Sandy is looking into changes for future responses and new protocols to put in place.

The city is also promising residents impacted by the crisis will receive a $25 reimbursements on their water bills.

They’ve also set up a place for residents to request additionally testing and submit claims for any damages.

One resident contacted the city to tell them their water heater had failed and the plumber believed it was because of the water contamination.

Residents can request testing and submit claims online here.

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Thousands Of Emails Depict Sandy Reaction To Water Crisis