ALTUS, OK (KSWO) -The water quality in Altus is improving thanks to a plant rehabilitation project.
The City of Altus unveiled its new reverse osmosis facility in April and now says it is producing the best water they've ever had. The city had been dealing with water issues since 2012 after a number of problems forced the closure of another plant that opened in 2005.
Scot Simco, an Altus restaurant owner, says it's no secret the city has faced many challenges regarding the water in Altus. He has owned a restaurant for 35 years, and says the water is clearer, cleaner and much better tasting. He says he's thankful this has been a top priority for local leaders.
"If we don't have water, we're closed," Simco, the owner of Val's, said.
Clean, clear and fresh water is all Simco wants for his customers.
"When you're trying to attract people to come to your town, if your water is bad, that's just another check mark and reason not to come or not to come to southwest Oklahoma at all," Simco said.
Altus Public Works Director John Barron says the city has invested more than $9 million in the last 18 months to fix and create a clean and reliable water system.
"We have removed those systems that were problematic and replaced them with better, more efficient systems, and so now we're treating water by reverse osmosis," Barron explained.
Barron says they had to make the change because their water was not compliant with state standards because of disinfection byproducts that were forming in the system. The taste had people complaining.
"We had too many organic compounds in the source water and the standard treatment method wasn't removing enough of the organics."
Simco says since the changes were made, he's noticed fewer people are ordering bottled water and are opting for tap instead. He's even noticed some differences in how the water feels.
"It's softer, and a lot cleaner, and you use less soap," he said. "There's less buildup on the dishes in the dishwasher. There's less film building up in dishwashers and coffee makers and things like that."
City officials say they hope the problems with the old system are in the past and they can continue to improve the quality of water for the city's residents.
"We have elevated levels of trihalomethanes, and so the main motivation for doing this plant rehab was to bring our water back to compliance and now were happy to say we're producing the safest, cleanest water in the history of the City of Altus," Barron said.
The city will continue to monitor the water and collect samples daily and weekly as needed to evaluate how effective the water treatment is working, as well as providing a quarterly sample for the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.
Altus hopes to have the plant rehabilitation project finished by August.