West Haven woman wants water woes rectified

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WEST HAVEN -- When you move into a new house, the quality of the water coming out of your faucet probably isn't very high on your list of concerns.

But one northern Utah woman learned she was taking showers, drinking and brushing her teeth in the sort of water she could have found in the nearest irrigation canal.

The house on Haven Drive is Bobbi Johnson's dream home.

"I fell in love with it. It was awesome," Johnson said. "I was so excited. I just loved it."

Bobbi Johnson's West Haven home
Bobbi Johnson's West Haven home

She and her family moved in this past June and got settled in right away testing out the jetted tub, enjoying the master shower and drinking water from their kitchen tap daily.

But Johnson thought something was a little fishy when, two months after moving in, she still hadn't received a water bill. One call to the city gave the term "fishy" a whole new meaning.

"They said, 'Well, how is it you're getting any water?' And then they figured it out that we must have the secondary water going through the culinary system," Johnson said.

Turns out, the water running to her house was actually secondary water straight from the source. It usually comes from rivers, lakes, creeks and irrigation canals.

"That's very disgusting," Johnson said. "You bake your cake. You cook with it. You shower with it. You brush your teeth with it. Yuck."

Besides the "yuck" factor, the spokeswoman for the Weber/Morgan Health Department told KSL News there are some serious health risks involved with drinking secondary water -- like cryptosporidium, giardia, shigella, and E. coli.

Bobbi Johnson
Bobbi Johnson

Johnson said she and her family had been plagued with illness and infections since they moved in.

"I have had eye infections. My son has had headaches. Family members have been to the emergency room twice," she said.

So how did river water, full of floating sediment, end up in Johnson's sink? According to the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District, which provides secondary water to West Haven, the line had to have been switched deliberately.

"You would have to actually, physically run a pipe clear across the yard, out near the road, to get it hooked in," explained Tage Flint, general manager for the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District.

The city water records show culinary water was running correctly through the home at one point in time. But after the previous owner was repeatedly delinquent on his water bill, the city locked him out, and someone dug down nearly 6 feet in the front yard and switched the connection over to secondary.

"It's very dangerous solution to that," Flint said. "In fact, it's against state code. You cannot cross connect your drinking water system to your secondary water supply systems."

Johnson said she has no idea who would have switched her water.

"I'm sick," she said. "I just can't believe somebody would do something like that and not disclose it."

She said she has tried to speak with the previous owner, who is also the agent who sold her the home, and has had no luck communicating with him. The agent's business partner, however, has helped her chlorinate the system and restore clean water to the home.

While Johnson is happy she gets to stay in her home, she says she still has a lot of questions.

"I don't want to move," she said. "I really love the home, and I love the area, and this is where I want to be. I don't want to move. I just want the problem rectified."

Johnson still needs to replace her water heater to complete the cleansing of her system.

KSL News tried several times to get a hold of the previous owner, but our calls have not been returned.

E-mail: jstagg@ksl.com

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Jennifer Stagg


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