‘It’s Like We’re Forgotten’: Sandy Woman Told To Replace Faucets, Not Drink Water Five Weeks After Contamination Crisis
Mar 14, 2019, 8:59 PM | Updated: Mar 15, 2019, 6:26 pm
SANDY, Utah — More than a month after Sandy City suffered a significant water contamination issue, one woman is still using bottled water for drinking and cooking because of unsafe levels of metals flowing from her home’s faucets.
“I feel like I’ve been forgotten,” said Kathe Bolan, who lives near the pump house that malfunctioned on Feb. 5 and sent extreme levels of fluoride into the water supply.
Week after week, water-quality tests from various faucets in Bolan’s home have revealed elevated levels of lead and copper. The most recent test results released on March 12 show she is one of six households “that exceeded lead, copper and antimony action levels or allowed fluoride limit.”
Bolan showed KSL a notice from the city advising her to not use the affected faucets for drinking and brushing teeth and to let the water run for one minute before washing hands. The notice also instructs her to replace the faucets and submit a receipt to the city for reimbursement.
“I don’t see any accountability,” Bolan said of the city’s response. “I don’t see anyone calling me—they know my home is still in the red.”
Sandy City discovered and corrected the fluoride leak on Feb. 7 and told residents the following day that the drinking water was safe. In a notice dated Feb. 8, the city recommended that homeowners flush their pipes by running all faucets for 30 minutes.
“They did say that the water was good to drink and that’s when I put the water down for my dogs and they threw up immediately,” Bolan said, adding that she also became ill after drinking the water.
It wasn’t until a week later, on Feb. 15, that lab results showed acute high levels of copper and lead in the water supply, prompting the city to issue a “no drink order” for more than 2,000 homes.
SANDY WATER PROBLEMS: “They did say that the water was good to drink and that’s when I put the water down for my dogs and they threw up immediately.” Five weeks after fluoride malfunction she still has high levels of lead & copper in her home. Her story is next on @KSL5TV at 6pm pic.twitter.com/2NyujZgVEH
— Ladd Egan (@laddegan) March 14, 2019
The undiluted fluoride corroded pipes and fixtures, which allowed the metals to leach into the water, according to Utah’s Division of Drinking Water. The division sent a notice to the city saying damage could to pipes, hot water tanks, filters and water softeners could be permanent.
As of Feb. 17, the city has said all water is safe to drink.
“We have found a few homes that need some follow-up,” said Marie Owens, the drinking water division’s director.
Owens said ongoing testing will help identify if recommended actions—like flushing pipes and replacing faucets—stop the lead and copper from entering the water. If not, more intensive repairs might be necessary.
“It could be either the service line coming into the home or the plumbing within the whole home,” she said.
Bolan plans to replace three faucets in her home and then have the city come retest the water. She wonders who will pay the bill if appliances, water heaters and pipes need to be replaced.
“That I’m not stuck with thousands of dollars’ worth of bills for something that I had nothing to do with,” she said.
She also worries about the value of her home being diminished if the problem is not fully solved.
“If I were to put my house on the market today, who would want to buy my house after all this? Nobody would,” she said.
Of the six homes with unsafe test results, two have been given the all-clear, according to deputy mayor Evelyn Everton. Another home is awaiting new test results after replacing faucets, she said.