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Clinton Continues Chlorination after Drinking Water Contamination

Judy Fahys

Drinking water advisories have been lifted in the Davis County community of Clinton, but the weeklong ordeal caused by bacterial contamination isn’t quite over yet

The problem started when someone illegally connected the irrigation water system to the separate system of drinking water pipes.  

Kelly Geisler owns the Little Munchkins Childcare Center and Preschool in Clinton. She and her 21 employees started implementing their emergency action plan as soon as they learned about traces of coliform bacteria in the drinking water. Geisler wanted to protect all 100 children in her care.

“We boiled a lot of water,” she says. “We had big pots of water. We were boiling for three days straight. We had pots of water boiling for all that hand washing. We did use bottled water for any of our drinking and for our bottle prep. But for any of our hand washing and our food prep, anything like that, we were boiling water for three days straight.”

The staff worried that tainted water might have been responsible for sending three of the kids home with diarrhea before the advisory was issued.

Meanwhile, the city has been keeping lines of communication open with its 6,300 water customers via Facebook and automated calls.

And, by last Friday, those on the east side of town were urged to flush their home water lines and get rid of any other water that might be contaminated. After city employees spent the weekend chlorinating and flushing the west side pipes, the rest of the city was cleared to use the water on Monday. Mike Child is director of the Clinton Public Works Department.

“As of now, there’s no restrictions. No advisory,” he says. “The city, as far as we’re concerned, it’s clean and safe. And we’re just going to continue to chlorinate and test and hopefully keep it that way.”

Child says there haven’t been any further signs of contamination since those first days. But the city will continue to chlorinate the water for a couple of weeks to make sure any residual bacteria is gone. The city is still investigating how the contamination occurred and who caused it. 

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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