Update: Classes Cancelled at Nibley, Heritage Elementaries Due to Water Contamination

Posted in: Drinking Water News, United States Water News, Water Contamination
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Workers remove contaminated soil near a spring that is a water source in Nibley. Photo Credit: Eli Lucero/Herald Journal.

Article courtesy of Amy Macavinta | April 22, 2015 | HJ News | Shared as educational material

Nibley residents could be without water for as much as two days after water contamination caused by diesel fuel in Yeates Spring, the city’s source for drinking water.

City manager David Zook said a resident notified the city of an odor in the water Wednesday, and testing at city hall confirmed the water had been contaminated.

Nibley is the only city utilizing water from this spring, so no other cities are affected.

Isolating the fuel

Zook said they believe they have identified the source of contamination and are working to isolate the fuel and flush the lines, all under the direction of the Utah State Division of Drinking Water. Crews are digging out a road that runs next to the spring. A worker on the scene said that diesel is on the road, though he wasn’t sure how it had gotten there.

The city contacted residents via email and emergency phone notification, as well as by social media. They have also posted information on the city website.

Residents may flush their toilets, but are otherwise advised not to use the water for drinking or any other purpose.

No immediate health risks

According to Jill Parker, spokeswoman for the Bear River Health Department, the diesel poses no immediate health risk to the public.

“The Material Safety Data Sheets tell us diesel is relatively non-toxic by ingestion, but it is not zero-risk, so until we can get some quantitative numbers back from the lab, we are asking people not to use the water,” Parker said.

Zook said the city is working with the Utah State Division of Drinking Water to test the water, determine the level of contamination and create a plan for cleaning the water.

Until that takes place, the city has made arrangements with other entities for people to fill water containers or take showers.

School closures

As a result of the contamination, Nibley Elementary and Heritage Elementary will be closed on Thursday.

“That is the only decision we have made at this time,” said Cache County School District representative Kirk McRae. “We will continue to monitor the situation to determine if we need to take additional action.”

Schools will conduct classes as soon as it is safe to do so, but until then, it just isn’t feasible, McRae said

However, students who attend Thomas Edison South Charter School will be able to go to school. A spokesperson there said students can bring a water bottle from home, and there will be bottled water available in the classrooms. Wipes and hand sanitizers will also be available for personal hygiene.

Lee’s Marketplace also helped out by donating four pallets of bottled water to Nibley City on Wednesday. According to Facebook postings, the south-end Walmart and Maceys in Providence had both run out of bottled water by Wednesday evening.

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