Syracuse Contamination Traced to Contractor Miscue

Posted in: Drinking Water News, United States Water News, Water Contamination
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Image Credit: Getty Images

Article courtesy of Bryon Saxton | June 6, 2015 | Standard Examiner | Shared as educational material

SYRACUSE — The suspected source for the E-coli and coliform bacteria drinking water contamination in Syracuse has been isolated, and city officials believe the concern will be fully corrected by Monday or Tuesday, officials said Saturday.

In the meantime, health officials still have in place a citywide boil notice advisory for culinary water. Residents are encouraged to notify neighbors of the advisory.

Since Wednesday, Syracuse Public Works has been working with the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District and the Davis County Health  Department to determine the cause of discolored drinking water in some areas of the city.

By 2 p.m. Friday, after some test sampling had been conducted by Davis County Health officials, the city shut down the city’s secondary water system and isolated the culinary water system between 1000 West and 3000 West for areas north of 1700 South.

Since that time it has been determined the point of contamination was a result of a cross connection of the secondary and culinary water systems at 775 S. 2000 West, said Public Works Director Robert Whiteley

The problem was created seven years ago when the Intermountain Healthcare clinic was being developed there. Intermountain was not the project developer. The problem lay dormant because the line was stubbed awaiting further development. Nilson Homes correctly connected the lines when developing Gailey Farms, a new subdivision, and would have had no way of knowing the original developer in the area incorrectly connected the culinary and secondary lines running under 2000 West, Syracuse Deputy Fire Chief Joe Hamblin reported at a Saturday press conference.

The press conference, with representatives of the city and county health department attending, was held at noon at City Hall, 1979 W. 1900 South.

“I’m impressed with our public works department. To find the source within 36 hours is pretty impressive,” Mayor Terry Palmer said.

The city staff has worked tirelessly on the problem, with City Manager Brody Bovero only getting about one hour of sleep in the last day, Palmer said.

The public will be notified through the media, the Syracuse Facebook page and website, and reverse 911 calls when drinking water can be safely ingested, officials said.

“We have not seen an up-tick in any symptoms of E-coli and coliform contamination,” Davis County Environmental Health Director Dave Spence said.

Contamination symptoms include fever, diarrhea and nausea.

On Saturday, city officials explained the timeline of events leading up to the discovery of the contaminated water.

On Tuesday, at about 7:45 a.m. Syracuse Public Works charged the secondary water system in the new Gailey Farms subdivision, located east of the Intermountain clinic, Hamblin said.

On Wednesday, at about 12:30 p.m., city public works received the first call from a resident reporting discolored water. It was then public works contacted Weber Basin Water Conservancy to inquire about water flows, trying to determine if an increased flow had stirred up some settling minerals.

That same day workers began flushing and testing the water system, Hamblin said, including opening hydrants to drain water out of the system. At that time chlorine was added to the system to destroy contaminants. But on Thursday after receiving additional calls about discolored water, a city resident contacted the county health department, which responded by collecting water samples that showed the contamination.

After learning of the lab results, the city shut down its entire secondary water system and isolated the culinary system to an area between 1000 West and 3000 West for areas north of 1700 South, Hamblin said.

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