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Duncan officials address water concerns

(Source: KSWO) (Source: KSWO)

Duncan, OK (KSWO) -  Residents in Duncan have been dealing with smelly water for weeks, and they're frustrated with the city's response.  

The issues started on January 5th, when a breakdown in the pipeline from the city's main water source, Lake Waurika. This forced officials to switch to their backup source, Lake Humphreys.  

Duncan Public Works Director Alex Henry said when the water stopped pumping from Waurika the department had to do something and fast because water was no longer coming in but it was still being used by residents.

"The water levels in the towers were coming down,” Henry said. “We wanted to be able to maintain the water supply to town to that when somebody turns their faucet on they do have water. Yes, it may have a different smell than normal but at least you do have water and also, the secondary behind that is, it's a fire and life safety as well. The firefighters, if there is a fire rely on the municipal water supply to be able to fight that." 

It took three days to fix the problem, and while that decision kept the water flowing to the town, that water carried with it some strong odors that couldn't be removed at the treatment plant.

 Henry said the odor stems from the water from Lake Humphreys, which sat in the lines for a period of time, causing it to smell. 

Jessica Sermon said even though they say the water is safe to drink, the smell is too much for her to bear so she can't drink the water.

"I wouldn't drink that," Sermon said.

She said the water smells like lake water or sewage.

"I can definitely smell it in my hair and then in the clothes as well,” Sermon said. “You kinda smell like you've been at the lake all day and you just haven't gotten to shower and it's frustrating because you can't get rid of the smell."

The city's solution has been to ask residents to help pump that water out by flushing a little more often and letting the water run.

But in the two weeks since then, the smell has lingered, and residents complained that the city's only reaction was to instruct them to flush their water, instead of opening fire hydrants across town to help speed the process.  

Henry said recently they have been opening hydrants in specific neighborhoods where the odor appears to have lingered longer but understands their frustration that the city simply cannot accurately predict how long the process of getting the stale water out of their 13-million-gallon storage tank will take.

"A specific example is, you know, you've got for instance a 40-gallon water heater in your house. Once that water is there, it's there and you have to use it. So no, there is no other way to get rid of it. You just have to go ahead and use it," Henry said.

Both Henry and Sermon said the smell seems to be getting better. 

"I don't know if it's getting better or If I'm like just getting used to it now because I can't really smell it as much and task it doesn't seem as bad which is good,” Sermon said “If it's going away that's all I want but it still tastes bad."

Henry says they've gotten 22 emails from residents about their water smelling. He said they've gone out to all 22 houses and most of the residents say it's gotten better. 

If you're still having problems, you can email water@duncanok.gov and they will address the complaint.

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