PFAS

Revealing the Trust Issues Oklahomans have With Tap Water KLAW 101

Oklahomans would like to drink the water that comes out of their taps without any worries. However, over time, studies and violations reported have shown that Oklahoma’s water may not be as safe for consumption as they thought.

Oklahoma was ranked one of the worst for tap water in 2023.

J.D. Power published in 2023 a study that Oklahoma’s tapwater ranked among the lowest in the country when it came to the customer feedback. This study examined feedback from customers regarding their tap water’s quality and reliability, as well as price, conservation and billing, communication and customer service. According to this study, Oklahoma was rated the third worst state for tap water based on customer ratings.

Oklahoma Department of Environmental Equality reacted to the study by stating that it did not consider the quality of tap water. Shellie Chard, Director of Oklahoma Water Quality Division, told FOX23 that Oklahoma’s tapwater is generally safe. She added that the water systems in large areas are tested daily against federal drinking standards. These smaller systems are tested weekly or monthly.

Oklahoma tap water contains ‘forever chemicals’

Later in 2023, a federal study found that “forever chemicals,” or PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkl) substances, could be found in at least 45 percent of the country’s drinking water. Consumers began to check their state’s drinking water to determine if it contained PFAS.


https://publichealth.wincoil.gov/pfas/

PFAs


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The Environmental Working Group created an Interactive Map that people can use to search for PFASs in their drinking water. This map is based on official records from public water systems to show where chemicals have been found at levels above or below the recommended level. Oklahomans discovered that PFAS was present in a few water systems across the state.


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EWG offers a Tap Water Database that allows consumers to search the quality of tap water by zip code. Oklahomans discovered that their drinking water was a problem when they searched zip codes in the state.

Oklahoma now requires that tap water be improved with chemicals found for ever.

Environmental Protection Agency released earlier this month its “first ever national, legally enforceable drink to protect communities against exposure to harmful polyfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFAS), which are also known as forever chemicals’.” The release states that the removal of the PFAS is important because it has been “linked to cancers and liver and heart damage, as well as immune and developmental problems in infants and young children.”

The EPA has set aside $9 billion for communities like Oklahoma that have drinking water contaminated by PFAS or other emerging contaminants. Plus, an additional $12,000,000 for improvements to drinking water in general.

2News Oklahoma received this statement from Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality when it was released by the EPA:

DEQ staff has been attending PFAS meetings with our federal and state partners and other states for a while and are actively preparing to EPA’s new PFAS regulation. DEQ staff is reviewing the information provided by EPA today and trying to determine its impact on Oklahoma’s water systems.

Recent water issues in Southwest Oklahoma

Oklahomans face issues with the quality and safety of their tap water.

Locals in Lawton have expressed concern about two issues that could affect the drinking water of the area. At a Comanche Nation on April 8 meeting, tribal members raised concerns over illegal dumping by the City of Lawton in East Cache Creak.

@hpollie Please share this! This is affecting many people in my tribe, even though it isn’t a huge tribe. #comanche#comanchetribe#dirtywater#dirty #water#dumping #nativeland#native #nativetiktok#nativeamerican#lawtonoklahoma#lawton #viraltiktok#viraltribe#tribal#poisonoriginal sound – Hpollie

Oklahoma DEQ investigated the matter after receiving complaints. On April 18, the department released a “notice” confirming that the City Lawton was dumping sewage into the creek. However, Oklahoma DEQ pointed out that this sewage is not raw but has been partially treated. It is also not as safe as The City of Lawton had led its citizens to believe . According to a article by KFOR the City of Lawton has blamed an “unexpected failure of equipment” but is “committed to solving the problem.”

Residents in Lawton are concerned about the future water quality of their city. They also worry about the installation by Westin Elements of a cobalt-nickel refinery. The majority of residents are opposed to the refinery and concerned about the future tap water. Westin Elements’ Community Impact Report was presented to the Lawton City Council on April 23. Residents spoke out against the refinery, and the council was forced to shorten the seven-hour session.

Citizens are still worried despite efforts to ensure that the tap water in Oklahoma is safe.

Oklahomans are right to be concerned about the drinking water quality, especially after the recent violations and the discovery of PFAS. There are also future plans which could have a negative impact on the quality of Oklahoma tap water. This includes both current and future infrastructure.

Oklahoma’s tap water may be at greater risk in the future if the state’s water treatment plants are not updated and if infrastructure from outside is allowed to get close to the water.

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