SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Residents in a Salt Lake City suburb are asking why they were allowed to drink possibly tainted water for a week before they were alerted to the problem.
Officials in Sandy declared its water safe to drink Sunday evening after a fluoride pump malfunctioned because of a power outage on Feb. 6, The Salt Lake Tribune reported .
The pump flooded parts of the water system with fluoride, which can cause health problems in large quantities. The overloaded acidic substance also corroded pipes in some homes, causing the release of toxic metals such as lead and copper.
The malfunction was repaired nearly two days after it began, the city said. Officials initially believed the water problem only affected an area containing up to 60 homes.
Workers handed out flyers in that area, but the flyers were not left if the residents were not home, which was a mistake, said Tom Ward, director of Sandy City Public Utilities.
The city starting receiving complaints of health issues outside the initial area days later, leading officials to realize the problem was more widespread. The city then sent out alerts across its communication systems.
“But the point is we could have done that sooner,” Ward said. “I failed in my duty in reaching some people. And that’s my responsibility.”
Resident Cydne Corlett said she first heard about the water problem on the news Friday, “so we had been drinking possibly contaminated water for a week.”
Corlett and her husband had stomach cramps and unusual dry mouth, she said. A city worker knocked on her door Saturday, telling her of the water situation and offering a case of water.
“I apologize for the lack of communication that was felt amongst residents,” Sandy Mayor Kurt Bradburn said. “We apologize, of course, about the tremendous inconvenience and health issues that this has caused. We will be there to help and assist in any way we can.”
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com