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Silas Walker, KSL

3 Utah schools deemed safe on lead, copper levels after Sandy water woes

By Amy Joi O'Donoghue, Deseret News | Updated - Feb. 19, 2019 at 10:00 p.m. | Posted - Feb. 19, 2019 at 12:47 p.m.

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SANDY — Drinking water at a trio of schools in Sandy was deemed safe after an independent lab came back Tuesday morning with sampling results that show an absence of elevated levels of lead and copper.

The Canyons School District released the "all clear" for Alta High and Altara and Sunrise elementary schools after the water systems were flushed over the long holiday weekend.

Earlier, before test results were known, bottled water was delivered to all three schools in the contamination zone in an area of Sandy where corrosive fluoride concentrations caused a potential leech of copper and lead from water pipes.

Jeff Haney, district spokesman, said random sampling was done at six sites at each of the schools, showing results that leave them confident.

Those results can be found online.

Additional samples collected from thousands of households are being tested by a private lab this week, with results expected by Friday.

In the interim, based on sampling results so far, the city lifted a no-drink order for the impacted areas of the city.

An overnight storm Feb. 5-6 knocked out power to a well house, causing a fluoride pump to malfunction and send the undiluted chemical into a portion of the delivery system.

Tom Ward, public utilities director, said the release happened over a 48-hour period.

The city began getting complaints Feb. 6, but all of the the impacted areas were not notified until the following week, and test results for lead and copper not disclosed until Feb. 15.

As a result of delays, the city was cited for failing to notify the public adequately about potential contamination, along with a citation for exceeding safe fluoride levels, according to Marie Owens, director of Utah's Division of Drinking Water.

At a town hall Monday night, residents blasted city leaders for failing to keep residents informed.

Another meeting is scheduled tonight at city hall, where elected leaders may craft an investigative body to look into what went wrong, and why.

Several people have reported becoming sickened by the exposure and at least one infant was violently ill.

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