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SEUHD says water in Helper good

Wells in Spring Canyon on the way to Scofield are some of the sources of water for Helper. One has been isolated from the system for safety.

Sun Advocate publisher

A report from one family about illness they thought was caused by bad water led officials from Helper and the Southeastern Utah Health District to look closely at the water in Helper on Monday.

"It was a report from one family," said Dr. Claron Bjork of the health district. "I think if we had a water problem we would have gotten many more calls about people being sick especially since there were a lot of extra people in town last weekend at the Helper Art Festival."

The report came after the family reported many of it's members had come down with stomach aches and had diarrhea. The family members suspected the water after a visit to a doctor.

"There is a monthly sampling of water in each drinking water system and both the samples for July and for August were good," said Bjork. The last regular sample taken was retrieved on Aug. 4.

Helper has three sources of water, including wells up Spring Canyon (toward Scofield), Colton Springs and springs on Fish Creek. There was some construction work on the system in Spring Canyon in the last month and investigative samples were done in that area at the time.

However, last week samples near the Spring Canyon wells showed some problems so the connection to that set of wells was immediately isolated from the system. That water is still not flowing into the system and the shortfall is being made up by purchasing water from the Price River Water Improvement District.

Dave Ariotti, the district engineer for the Department of Environmental Quality said on Tuesday morning that the investigation into the problems on those springs is continuing.

"The cause of the contamination could be several things," said Ariotti. "Tree roots can get into the system, it could be a broken pipe, or a number of other things."

While some tests can be done at the lab in Price, other kinds of tests on the water must be sent to a lab in Colorado so the delay time on some kinds of tests is longer.

"They examine the sample with a high powered microscope to see if any surface water has infiltrated the system," stated Ariotti.

Ariotti said that the water system Helper uses also supplies water to the Utah Department of Transportation shed near Colton as well as to the residents of Hilltop.

"There have been no reports of any problems with people working there or frequenting those places," he said.

The health district and Helper are continuing to test the water that is coming into the town and so far no bad tests have shown up.

"We take all reports of possible drinking water contamination seriously, as we are with this one," said Ariotti. "There have just been no bad samples taken within Helper City."

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