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Sandy reinstates embattled public utilities director after water flap

Salt Lake County Health Department Employee Ron Lund takes water samples to be analyzed from homes in the effected area in Sady on Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. (Silas Walker, Deseret News)

SANDY — Sandy’s mayor reinstated the city’s public utilities director, months after a scare over contaminated water linked to a fluoride overfeed.

City leaders put Tom Ward on administrative leave in February while launching an independent investigation into the water contamination. A system malfunction flooded pipes with fluoride, leading to elevated levels of copper and lead in the city of Sandy’s drinking water supply.

A new report into what happened found Ward’s department’s response to the situation was both prompt and diligent. It says Ward was thoughtful about his decisions and took the appropriate actions to best serve the city’s residents.

However, the report does criticize communications errors within the Public Works Departments, the city’s notification process, and its ability to notify those who were affected by the contamination. It also stressed the importance of communicating more with those affected.

Overall, the independent report says Sandy’s response to the entire issue fell within standards typical of the industry. It found the city did not hide information from the public.

Earlier this spring, health officials said 239 people in all were sickened by the contaminated water, all within a relatively small area of Sandy — mostly with gastrointestinal symptoms. One person tested positive for elevated levels of lead.

The city reimbursed affected households about $2,600 each.