Norman warns residents about arsenic in the water

Folks who turn on the faucet in Norman now have another warning about arsenic in the water. The warnings are coming from this letter, sent to residents this week.Three wells exceeded the legal limit for arsenic, and had to be shut down.But Norman's director of utilities Ken Komiske says the city's water is safe to drink."We took care of it. We turned off these wells, they represent less than 2% of all the water we produce," Komiske said.While the problem is concerning, Komiske says the limits were dropped in the last few years. The acceptable limit used to be 50 parts per billion, it's not 10, and that means it's easier to exceed the limit than before.10 parts per billion is like 10 drops of water in 20 Olympic sized swimming pools, and someone must drink a lot of water over time to meet that level.The city says they've shut down every well that had any arsenic at all but they say even if they were to shut down every well that had any trace of arsenic whatsoever, it wouldn't keep the problem from happening in the future."What we're faced with as a community-- if it's not arsenic, it's chromium, if it's not chromium, it's venadium, just go right down the list," Komiske said.After years of problems with arsenic in Norman, Komiske says the problem is what's beneath these wells in the aquifer. Komiske says the arsenic comes from the ground naturally and will keep coming up"We're going to have to resign ourselves that if we want to continue using the aquifer we're going to have to build a treatment plant that specifically treats the aquifer water," Komiske said.
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