The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has found a former employee wasn’t doing his job and it put an eastern Iowa city’s water supply at risk. Scott Harris was responsible for monitoring the city of Edgewood’s water.
D.N.R. records show he only bought enough material for 100 chlorine tests, but he sent in nearly 4,000 test results between January 2006 and July 2009. The D.N.R. started investigating after citizen complaints about the declining quality of the water. Harris resigned a short time later. Edgewood Mayor James Stone says Harris told him that he didn’t have time to monitor the water. That excuse isn’t sitting well with local residents like Camen Payne.
“I especially think of all the kids who are drinking the water, and that’s just not good,” Payne said. “How can you do that? That doesn’t take that much time to check the water.”
Joe Sanfilippo, with the D.N.R.’s Manchester field office, says Harris not only falsified the tests, he also failed to add chemicals to the water to kill bacteria. Fortunately, no one reported getting sick. Sanfilippo says the D.N.R. is already short on staff, so routine tests of city water systems might only happen every four or five years.
“If we had come here to do a routine inspection, without any complaints from the public, we would have caught it,” Sanfilippo said. Currently, the city is working to stabilize the system. Sanfilippo said the water is safe to drink.
The D.N.R. is working with the Attorney General’s office in Des Moines to determine if charges will be filed against Harris.
Contributed by Justin Foss, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids