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Boil Your Water

by Nick Coons
Jan 26, 2005

"Don't drink the water, use it for laundry, or even your dishes. Buy lots of batteries. The world is coming to an end!" That's some of the media hype you may have heard recently as the City of Phoenix's water supply became slightly contaminated. This slight contamination may have caused some people to become a little ill. It wasn't the fatal disaster that everyone made it out as.

In case you didn't follow the entire flop all the way through, there were some interesting things that happened. The water was turned off at schools, and they replaced their drinking fountains with bottled water for all of the students. They also replaced the sinks in the bathrooms with hand sanitizer. I don't know if you've seen little kids' hands throughout the day when they haven't been washed, but I can say with pretty good certainty that hand sanitizer isn't going to cut it.

But that's understandable. Where it starts to get silly is when restaurants in neighboring cities, those not affected at all by the water issue, either stopped serving water to their patrons or boiled the water prior to its use. There are a couple of restaurants in Tempe and Chandler that I know of (both completely unaffected as they don't tie into Phoenix's water supply) that stopped serving water altogether.

Now here's what really happened. Runoff from the Salt River
Salt River(so'lt RI'-ve'r)

The Salt River runs through south Phoenix to the northern part of the state. It has been dammed up in various locations creating several lakes used for Arizona's boating enthusists. The river got its name for the salty taste of its water. This was caused by the enormous amount of Salt Cedar trees that bank the river. These trees have a salty taste to both their leaves and roots.

from all of the rain we've been getting recently is blamed, and it increased the levels of "turbidity" in the city's water system.

Here's an interesting tidbit. Recently, Michael Gritzuk, the Directory of the city's water, was demoted after taking it upon himself to make the decision to issue the boil order earlier this week. The city manager removed him because of the way he handled the situation. However, in another article, Ken Kroski, a spokesperson for the Phoenix Water Department was quoted as saying, "We understand that by issuing a boil water (order) a lot of people are affected, but it was the right thing to do."

So it sounds like we have politics as usual. "We've removed the director because of the decision he made, but we stand by that decision."

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