Tulsa passes annual water review

Tulsa has released its 2016 water quality report with no outstanding issues concerning the safety of tap water in the city.

“Tulsa water is safe to drink and free of bacteria and harmful substances,” according to a statement by city officials.

City chemists and plant operators test the water when it enters the pipes at source water lakes and monitor the water throughout treatment and distribution. When the water leaves the treatment plant and flows toward Tulsa’s homes and businesses, it not only meets, but surpasses all federal requirements for purity.

Rainwater flows downhill both over the land and under the ground to collect in streams and in lakes. As water travels to lakes, it dissolves minerals naturally found in rocks and soil. The water can also pick up harmful materials like pesticides, herbicides and bacteria left in and on the ground after human or animal activity.

Tulsa’s drinking water comes from three lakes in northeastern Oklahoma: (1) Lake Oologah on the Verdigris River (in Rogers and Nowata counties), (2) Lakes Spavinaw and Eucha on Spavinaw Creek (in Mayes and Delaware counties), and (3) Lake Hudson on the Neosho River (in Mayes County).  Water flows from the source lakes through pipes to Tulsa’s two water treatment plants, where it is purified to meet drinking water and public health standards. City chemists and plant operators analyze over 12,500 samples each year. This report results from samples taken during 2015.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) limits how much of a harmful substance is in the public water supply after water treatment. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets similar limits for bottled water. The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) has studied our source lakes. Its report showed that human activities could pollute this water.

Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. Immuno-compromised persons such as persons with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly, and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers.

If present, elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing.

When your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your tap for 30 seconds to 2 minutes before using water for drinking or cooking.

Sediment in our source water is a major problem. The turbidity (cloudiness) of the water is monitored throughout the treatment process. Employees even monitor finished water as it travels through the distribution system.

Tulsa’s water distribution system consists of 2,237 miles of underground water lines, thousands of valves, 145,933 water meters, 15,927 hydrants, 12 pump stations and 12 treated water storage reservoirs in the Tulsa city limits.

Average consumption in the Tulsa area is 102 million gallons per day. In 2011, Tulsa set a new record for maximum pumpage, 209.03 million gallons on July 16 of that year.

Stormwater in Tulsa flows either into Bird Creek or the Arkansas River. These two waterways are the primary watersheds in the Tulsa area. Bird Creek receives stormwater from the north and eastern sections of the city. It eventually flows into the Verdigris River. The Arkansas River receives stormwater runoff from western and southern Tulsa neighborhoods. Tulsa’s storm water drainage system includes 439 miles of open channels, 29 miles of improved channels and 988 miles of roadside ditches.