Duncan Public Works Department address water concerns - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Duncan Public Works Department address water concerns

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

DUNCAN, OK (KSWO) - The City of Duncan is limiting the amount of chlorine used to disinfect its water supply after receiving notice from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality that they were in violation of standards for drinking water set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Residents have received several letters notifying them about the violation telling them the city has exceeded the level for Total Trihalomethanes or TTHM's in their drinking water.

Trihalomethanes are formed when chlorine is added to water and reacts with organic matter.

According to Duncan City officials, the reason they're now in violation is that the EPA recently changed what they consider to be the safe amount present.

The EPA states that the annual average of TTHM's cannot rise above 0.80 milligrams per liter. The city is above that level.

While some residents say the letter concerns them, the city maintains the water is safe.

The EPA has ordered the city of Duncan to reduce the amount of chlorine used to disinfect the city's water supply. As a result, Duncan Public Works Director Alex Henry said letters have been sent to the residents about the situation, reassuring that the water is safe to drink.

"The water is safe. It is safe to drink. It has always been safe to drink. If at some point we have some major catastrophe and it is not safe to drink, the public will be notified immediately, it will not go out in the utility bill, it will not go out 2 months later, people will know right then and there that we have a problem," Henry said.

Resident Destiny Ricketts has lived in the city of Duncan for over 10 years and received the Notice of Violation on her utility bill several times and despite the city saying it's safe, she believed otherwise. Ricketts said her water continues to have an odor that worries her.

"It smells like Sulfur is what is what it smells like to me,almost like a rotten egg smell especially when you leave it running for 2 or 3 minutes to brush your teeth that when you can really start noticing the stench more," said Ricketts said.

Earlier this year the city had to re-route their water supply to come from Lake Humphrey after the water transmission line failure from Waurika Lake. The mixture of the water in the lake and the water treatment plant caused the taste and odor of the water to change.

 But Henry said the complaints on taste and odor related to that issue are not related to the issue regarding Trihalomethanes..

"Residents may get a random whiff of chlorine we actually use a chlorine to carry a residual, there should be a very little amount of a chlorine  smell in their water," Henry said.

Henry said the city has adjusted the injection lines at the treatment plant to bring them into compliance with what the EPA sets, but assures the chemicals injected are treating the  water and killing the bacteria. When chlorine is added to drinking water it reacts with any organic matter in the water, creating Trihalomethanes or THM.

"Its purely a by product chlorination is required at a lot of plants one of which being Duncan of course that is how we disinfect the water that we send to town ,we have to disinfect the water to make sure it is bacteria logically safe to drink as a by product of that disinfection we get total Trihalomethanes or TTHM," said Henry.

The EPA estimates that drinking 2 liters of water containing THM every day for 70 years could result in three extra cases of cancer for every 10,000 people. Henry says the Trihalomethanes  will not affect your health.

"This is absolutely not any acute concern at all," Henry said.

Henry said the city has made an agreement with DEQ to fix the issue. They have until February of 2019 to change their systems in order to come up with a new way  to treat water that won't create Trihalomethanes.

Copyright 2017 KSWO. All Rights Reserved.

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