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Cedar Hills neighborhood tests positive for contaminated water

Published: Monday, Sept. 17 2012 3:36 p.m. MDT

CEDAR HILLS — City crews have rerouted a water line connected to 13 homes following a rash of complaints from residents that their culinary water was making them sick.

"Other neighbors had been sick for a couple of weeks," Cedar Hills resident Mary Moore said, "but we all just kept it to ourselves, thinking it was a bug or the flu or something."

Residents in a  Cedar Hills neighborhood first started getting sick with flu-like symptoms in July. Those symptoms grew progressively worse, they said, and several people were diagnosed with giardia.

This month, residents began complaining to city officials about discolored and bad-tasting water and wondering if it was the reason they had been getting sick.

"So I got thinking, ‘Maybe they screwed up when they switched us over to Cedar Hills' (water supply),'" said Aaron Michaels, a resident who contracted the disease.

That's exactly what happened. The area was getting its water from Manila Water Co. until the company went bankrupt this summer. On July 5, a private contractor connected the neighborhood to an existing Cedar Hills system, and that's when neighbors started getting sick.

City public works crews found a problem in the piping that was allowing secondary water into culinary lines.

"We did find a cross-connect in (a) cluster of valves where there was a 2-inch lateral tied from the culinary irrigation to the pressurized irrigation," said David Bunker, Cedar Hills city manager.

City crews fixed the problem and flushed the system with chlorine and fresh water. Daily testing of the culinary water is scheduled until Friday, and regular testing will resume on a monthly bases after that, Bunker said.

City officials have supplied bottled water to residents affected by the contamination. The city also will refund the money residents' paid as part of their water bills during the period of contamination.

"Any issue with our water system is a high priority," Mayor Gary Gygi said in a news release Monday. "The health and safety of our residents is of utmost importance to us, and we will continue to work with those residents who were affected by this issue."

Contributing: Julian Reyes

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