SANTAQUIN, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – Santaquin Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying vandals who shot and damaged the city’s main water storage tank.
Behind the Summit Ridge neighborhood in Santaquin lie endless hills and fields. Plenty of space for outdoor activities.
“We have a lot of hikers, ATV and off-road vehicle riders, we have a lot of people who come up on a regular basis to do some recreational shooting,” said Santaquin Officer Mike Wall.
On Sunday, someone turned to vandalism. Police say between 10:00a.m. and 11:15a.m. someone used the city’s main water storage tank’s control system as target practice.
“Public works noticed a flat line or an offline observation for their control system for their water tank. They responded up here and found 8 bullet holes to the housing of the module and 1 bullet hole to the solar panel,” said Wall.
The Supervisory Control and Data Acquisitions system – or SCADA – which controls the tank automatically refills the tank when the water levels dip below 4 feet. When SCADA began losing water it sent a signal to the Public Works department alerting them about the damage. With the system now temporarily out of service, its become an inconvenience for the public works department.
“Now, we manually have to guess where the tank is, and see where the water levels are, we have to turn it on manually and monitor it pretty much constantly,” said Wade Eva, Director for the Public Works Department.
Luckily, Santaquin Public Works is monitoring their three one-million-gallon tanks as well as their one 500,000 gallon tank constantly, which is why they were able to get to the problem quickly before any of the 17,000 customers lost their water service. But should the system completely fail, it would have drastic effects on the city.
“This community would run out of water, this is actually one of our biggest sources for the city of Santaquin with 50% of our total water supply,” said Eva.
Currently, the investigation is slow as police have no leads. They only evidence left behind were bullet shell casings from a 223 caliber rifle. Police are turning to the public to see if anyone may have seen or heard anything during those early hours Sunday morning.
However, because of the vandalism police may consider implementing restrictions on recreational shooting in the area and possibly banning it all together.
The Santaquin Police Department say the vandalism is considered a federal offense and the FBI could get involved. If found guilty the person responsible could face up to 10 years in prison.
Santaquin Public Works say repairs will cost taxpayers approximately $5,000 dollars and they hope to have the system back up and running by next week. They say they will also be placing signs at all of their locations to remind people that vandalism to those areas could land them in jail.