Phoenix Water Chief Reassigned

February 1, 2005

The director of the Phoenix's Water Services Department has been reassigned due to the way he handled last week's water problem.

Mike Gritzuk was responsible for the decision to issue an alert early Tuesday that told the city's 1.4 million residents they needed to boil all drinking water until further notice.

Mayor Phil Gordon believes the alert may have been made in haste "given that the testing of the water showed it was never a health issue."

Officials say there is nothing in safe-drinking water rules that required a boil-water advisory – issued at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday – after the water at the city's Val Vista water treatment plant in Mesa tested high for turbidity. However, very high turbidity was noted immediately prior to Milwaukee’s deadly Cryptosporidium outbreak in the early 1990s.

The advisory was in effect until 4 p.m. Wednesday, prompting some Phoenix restaurants to close and curtailing business in general.

City Manager Frank Fairbanks said he'll await the results of the internal investigations before deciding whether the boil-water advisory was prudent. However, he and Gordon were concerned they weren't consulted before Gritzuk issued it.

Gritzuk, director of the Water Services Department for more than 16 years, will handle special water-related projects but will no longer be involved in the department's daily operations.

City administrator Danny Murphy takes over immediately as department director. A 21-year veteran with the city who most recently served as the head of Phoenix's information technology department, Murphy is being moved to the water services department because of his excellent managerial skills, city officials said.

Aiding him will be Jerome Miller, assistant director of the neighborhood services department.

Miller will help run the agency's daily operations and put in place in changes that might result from this week's water situation, Fairbanks said.

Source:

The Associated Press

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