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KSL TV, File

Sandy City releases emails showing delayed, down-played water warnings to residents

By Tania Dean, KSL TV | Posted - Mar. 7, 2019 at 9:33 a.m.

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SANDY — Hundreds, if not thousands of emails between Sandy City employees related to the water quality debacle were released to KSL Wednesday following an open records request.

The emails show that Sandy City was warned that the water supply could be contaminated with lead and copper a full week before they told residents.

One email was sent at 11 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 8, to Tom Ward, Sandy’s utilities director. He is now on administrative leave.

“Mike said 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.”

The email came from a state environmental scientist.

Despite this warning, Sandy City only warned residents about an excess of fluoride in the drinking water.

It wasn’t until a full week later, on Feb. 15, when test results came back, that city officials told residents there may be high levels of lead and copper in the water. At that point, residents were asked to flush their water systems.

State officials say about 600 homes were affected by contaminated water with many people reporting that they got sick.

State officials asked Sandy City to send out a warning to the public, but when a notice went out, it was downplayed by the city.

Photo: KSL TV

KSL also obtained a copy of the warning sent to Sandy City from the state the Division of Drinking Water. In the warning, water officials urge the city to tell residents about the malfunction that dumped fluoride into the city’s water system from Feb. 5 to Feb 7.

The title says “Drinking Water Warning.” A secondary title on the warning says “DO NOT INGEST WARNING.”

However, the document that actually went out to residents reads differently. The title says “Notice of recent drinking water quality event.” Nowhere does it say “do not ingest.”

Photo: KSL TV

Both documents were created on Friday, Feb. 8. The city’s version was drafted about an hour after the got the state’s version.

Emails show Tom Ward, who is Sandy’s utilities director, is the one who sent out the city’s version downplaying the event. Although, he has told KSL in the past that it was a group decision to modify the language.

On Feb. 20 Ward was placed on administrative leave.

KSL is continuing to review the records released. The state is currently investigating the city’s response to the water contamination.

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