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Agency Didn’t Reveal Water Risk

Tue., Sept. 5, 1995

An official of the District 7 Health Department is conceding the staff was negligent in failing to follow up on an early report that water at eastern Idaho’s Sawtelle Mountain Resort potentially carried disease-causing bacteria.

Environmental Health Director Richard Horne said the district was aware of the problem over a month before informing the public of the possible health risk. An outbreak of dysentery occurred in that time, affecting more than 100 people.

The outbreak may never be firmly linked to the resort water, but Horne said the district knew in early July of the presence of coliform, which indicates disease could be in the water.

The district followed state regulations and immediately advised the resort that additional water samples must be tested. Owner Grover Chatterton said the samples were taken but then miscommunication resulted in the samples failing to reach the laboratory in Rexburg for analysis.

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