In February an incident in Sandy City’s water system accidentally sent contaminated water to some 600 homes in that community. While incidents like this are extremely rare, they raise the question: could this happen in other systems?
What happened in Sandy?
The Sandy incident began on February 5, when a snowstorm caused a power outage in the water treatment system. This caused a pump to malfunction and feed too much fluoride into the system. The excess of fluoride leached lead and copper out of pipes, causing contamination of the water.
Some affected residents criticized the city’s reaction to the event, saying they were not notified quickly enough. Some reported that the water made them sick. Sandy City is continuing to investigate the incident, analyze their response, and plan how to respond to any future problems.
Why is there fluoride in the water in the first place?
Since the 1940s, many public water utilities in the U.S. have added fluoride to the water in order to prevent tooth decay.
In Utah, fluoride occurs naturally in most of our water. In 2003 voters in Salt Lake County approved a measure requiring public water suppliers to add fluoride to bring it to the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.
Could an incident like this happen in Draper?
WaterPro has multiple layers of safety equipment and protocols in place to prevent incidents like this. But there is the possibility that an incident could happen in any system, including WaterPro’s.
We take public safety extremely seriously. We constantly monitor our systems and test water for contaminants. We have plans in place to deal with a contamination incident if one should occur.
In addition, we are looking at our systems for communicating with our customers in an emergency. We encourage all our customers to register their phones and email addresses with the Reverse 911 service
Stay Informed: Register for Reverse 911
In a public safety emergency – for example, a water contamination incident – how would you find out about it?
Reverse 911 is a public safety communications technology for communicating with people in a defined geographic area. In an emergency, public safety organizations send out a recorded message to all the phones in their database for the affected area.
Most landline phones are automatically included in the database, but if your household relies on cell phones, VOIP, or other technology, you must contact your local Reverse 911 agency and register your phone(s) and email address(es).
Depending on where they live, Draper residents should register with either Salt Lake or Utah County. Visit draper.ut.us and search for “reverse 9-1-1” for details on how to register.