Residents plea for clean water

They want clean drinks — not new justice center

By Don Baker
Deseret News staff writer

      SOUTH SALT LAKE — Local residents had a few choice words for the City Council here Wednesday night about the current state of South Salt Lake's drinking-water system:
      Yucchh. Gag. Blecch. Eee-euw.
      That about sums up the feelings of a half dozen agitated people who told council members to forget floating a $6 million bond for a criminal justice center and pump some money into replacing city water lines instead.
      "If you're not hooked up to South Salt Lake water, you're missing out on a treat," long-time resident Dee Linschoten said. "It's really enjoyable to take a bath in mud.
      "And when you flush your toilet, what stays up is worse than what went down," he added. "It's outrageous."
      The city's solution to the problem — flushing water lines and hydrants — obviously isn't working, Linschoten told the council.
      Oh yeah, and those denials about problems with city water aren't either.
      "If there's nothing wrong with the water," he asked, "then why isn't it white (clear)?"
      Linschoten was just one of several residents who took advantage of a 90-minute public comment session to deluge the council with complaints about the woeful condition of the city's most liquid asset.
      "Why are we talking about bonding for a new building when we can't stand to drink the water?" asked Nick Gosdis. "We want you to put in a new water system."
      When the city opened a nearby hydrant in an effort to flush the local culinary system, he said, the water quality became even worse.
      Gosdis said he's tired of showering in "brown water," and he's tired of wondering what will come out of his tap next.
      That led one woman to observe that while her shower water may be brown, the water in her sink is more yellow .
      Another resident suggested the council might want to place a water system upgrade at the top of its priority list.
      Linschoten also suggested the council might want to consider beefing up its insurance liability coverage because "one of these days someone is going to get sick" drinking city water.
      Gosdis also complained staff in the city water department have not complied with community council requests for information about water system income and expenditures.
      "I want to see where the water money goes," he said, "and I'd like to see it in black and white" rather than brown or yellow.
      Councilman Bill Anderson offered to share a financial summary he has been provided on the city's water enterprise fund, noting the fund has been operating at a net loss the past few years.