SANDY — The drinking water crisis is not over for some homeowners.
More than a month after toxic levels of fluoride entered pipes following a pump malfunction, Kathe Bolan still can't drink or cook with the water in her home. She lives in one of six houses that are still showing elevated levels of lead and copper.
Officials say a power outage on overnight on Feb. 5-6 caused an injector to malfunction, releasing concentrated fluoride into a section of town potentially impacting 2,200 homes, some schools and other facilities. The Utah Division of Drinking Water says the malfunction caused copper and lead to leach from pipes and fixtures.
Bolan said she knew immediately that something wasn't right with the water.
“It makes you cramp. It was a cramping feeling,” she said Thursday.
Residents have criticized the city for how it responded to the problem. A news release was first issued Feb. 15, with updates on possible elevated levels of lead and copper the next day.
But even after the fluoride was flushed from the system the problems continued.
“They did say that the water was good to drink, and that’s when I put the water down for my dogs and they threw up immediately,” she said.
Week after week, test results from Bolan's home have come back in the red, showing unsafe levels of lead and copper. Sandy officials are now advising Bolan and other homeowners whose water is contaminated to replace their faucets. It is also advising those living in the homes to let the water run for a minute before washing their hands and not use the water to brush their teeth.
Bolan has been advised to replace three faucets to start with and then do more testing.
Marie Owens, division director of the Utah Division of Drinking Water, said ongoing testing will reveal if homes have permanent damage.
“We have found a few homes that need some follow-up," she said. “It’s going to take some time.”
And if replacing the faucets doesn’t get rid of the unsafe levels of copper and lead?
“It could be either the service line coming into the home or the plumbing with the whole home,” Owens said.5 comments on this story
Evelyn Everton, Sandy’s deputy mayor, said Thursday that of the six homes with red test results, two are now in the clear. Testing is still out for another house where the faucets were replaced. The city says it will reimburse the homeowners for the faucets.
Bolan says she feels left in the dark, wondering when she can go back to drinking the water and who will pay if appliances, water heaters and pipes need to be replaced.
“If I were to put my house on the market today, who would want to buy my house?” she asked.
"I don’t see any accountability. I don’t see anyone calling me,” Bolan said. “They know my home is still in the red. If I know it, they know it. It’s like we’re forgotten. I feel like I’ve been forgotten.”