Investigation shows someone tampered with Brandon water report

BRANDON, S.D. (KSFY) - The city of Brandon wants people to know their drinking water is safe. A report posted on a social media website showed the city's drinking water contained high levels of radioactive particles, but an investigation shows someone tampered with that report.

A social media site posted the results of a water sample taken from a location in Brandon in June. The results on that site showed high levels of radiation, beyond what the EPA considers safe.

Trudy Papka has always been interested in the city of Brandon’s water quality. That's when she joined the Water Development Committee. She learned through a social media post Brandon’s water could have been contaminated.

"I suspected it could've been made up, but I wanted to know for sure,” Papka said.

"The city refrained from commenting on the social media post until we had received the final test results of our own sample as we will only provide final results to the public," Brandon City Administrator, Bryan Read said.

The city further investigated the post by sending out two samples of water. One to the South Dakota Public Health Lab and the other to Mid Continent labs in Rapid City.

"Whoever posted this on social media altered the results to show that the city was in violation of the federal drinking water standards," Read said.

The lab is not releasing the name of who altered the sample report that actually came out of Rapid City. That altered report reads results exceed the EPA safe drinking water act standards, meaning the water is unsafe to drink, but in the factual report it says the city of Brandon actually meets the requirements.

"Brandon has and will continue to provide water that meets and exceeds all primary drinking water standards set by the EPA for the health and safety of our citizens," Read said.

"We do regulate all of the community public water systems in the state of South Dakota and we require them to submit samples in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act," South Dakota DENR Administrator, Mark Mayer said.

After the facts were brought forward Papka knew the water report was made up.

"I would hope those people would try to be a little more careful about what they're posting," Papka said.

"My family including my dog and I will continue to drink that water supplied by the city of Brandon," Read said.

City Administrator Bryan Read said social media can't always be trusted to provide true and accurate information. Brandon's City Council will be meeting Monday to address this topic again.

Officials with DENR say that Brandon continually provides water samples to be tested each year as required. For the last 18 years the city has been awarded for fulfilling their requirements.