The reason potentially dangerous levels of fluoride were pumped into Sandy City drinking water is not what city leaders initially said.

Jim Spiewak reports: Cause of Sandy’s water contamination not what city leaders originally said. (Video: KUTV)

Next week will mark one year since hundreds of homes, in several zones, were thought to be potentially contaminated when a pump failed, allowing fluoride to get into the drinking water for days before being detected.

At the time, Sandy City leaders said bad weather caused a power outage near the pump, causing the failure.

But, Department of Environmental Quality and Sandy City officials say findings from a nearly year-long investigation concluded a safety feature on the equipment was to blame along with a software glitch that didn’t warn anyone the safety switch wasn’t working.

Marie Owens, the head of DEQ’s Division of Drinking Water told 2-News:

The equipment did what it was programmed to do, none of the safety controls were operational.

Tom Ward, Sandy’s Public Utility Director used the word ‘malfunctioned’ when describing the safety switch adding he thinks it may have malfunctioned weeks prior to the contamination.

Ward also says a software programming glitch did not warn the city of the problem adding “those are the two pieces, that we did not understand completely, it took months to kind of figure that out.”

Ward says independent contractors, not city staff, oversee the software programming of the pumps:

That’s a big deal, you know, we rely on computers so much these days and we’ve got to make sure that systems in place to catch the problems on those things.

The name of the independent contractor who worked on the pump is part of the investigation that has not yet been released.

”There are a number of other things that we learned we could have put in place and we have put in place that will prevent it [from happening again] in the future,” Ward says.

Residents, like Jodi Monaco, who live in one of the most contaminated zones and whose dog got sick says:

I’m actually really nervous when I try to use tap water whatsoever, I still don’t know what the long-term implications are for myself, my pets, anyone who was drinking the water that day.

Sandy has submitted their final report to the DEQ, which is doing a final review.

That’s expected to take a couple more weeks. Ward says the final report has a list of improvements to prevent this from happening again. It’s still unknown if the city will face fines or penalties.

*Original article online at

** See all reports on the Sandy, Utah, event