Mayor Kurt Bradburn announced today the reinstatement of Tom Ward as Sandy City’s Public Utilities Director after completion of an independent investigation conducted by the law firm Parsons Behle & Latimer.
The report which included review of thousands of documents, media responses, social media posts and in person interviews found that “Sandy’s operational response to the fluoride overfeed was generally within normal industry standards. Once Public Utilities employees were aware of the multiple water complaints in the same area, including complaints of illness, they responded promptly and worked diligently to follow -up on those complaints.” The report also determined that the “City did not hide information from the public.”
The report concluded that Tom Ward “generally conveyed thoughtfulness about his decisions, provided reasoning for those decisions and accepted responsibility for Public Utilities’ actions. Ward conveyed a sense of commitment to serving Sandy residents and concern that he was making correct decisions based on the information available to him at the time and taking appropriate actions to best serve residents.”
“We are glad to have Tom Ward back directing the Public Utilities Department,” said Bradburn. “The report clearly states that mistakes in communication were made but his department’s prompt response to the fluoride overfeed mitigated the impact on residents. It is easy to look back at an event with hindsight and want to make different decisions but I believe Tom made the best choices with the information he had at the time. The report confirms to me that public health and transparency were at the foremost of his decision-making process.”
Tom Ward said, “I am looking forward to getting back to work and serving the residents of Sandy. There were a lot of lessons learned from this event but I am committed to applying all of those lessons to improving the department services and our communication with residents.”
The report found many areas of improvement for Sandy City including, “failure to comply with technical regulatory notice requirements”, “the need to identify with more specificity and speed who was impacted by the fluoride overfeed” and should have “communicated more information to impacted residents earlier in the event.”
“I made the commitment to residents that this would be a very transparent process. While it is a painful exercise to go through an independent investigation, it is absolutely vital to make improvements in the future. During an emergency it’s difficult to understand all of the moving parts that led to how decisions were made. This report provides a clear outline of what exactly happened and when,” said Bradburn. “This will be extremely valuable in assessing our response as a whole to identify where we performed well and where we can improve.”