Brown water worries residents, safe to drink city says

Claremore resident Vona Cardwell said her pool was treated with $65 worth of chlorine but the water remained brown.

More than a dozen Claremore residents took to social media community groups this week to complain about brown water coming out of their taps.

One of those residents, Vona Cardwell, purchased an above ground pool for her new home and filled it with a standard watering hose attached to her house.

She and her husband noticed the water was brown right away, but they figured that if they let it run long enough, the color would eventually come out clear.

By the time the pool was full, it looked as if it had been sitting out all year without a cover.

“We put five pounds of shock in and it’s still brown,” Cardwell said. “That is $65 worth of chlorine.”

Cardwell said that is more chemical treatment than they put into the in ground pool they had at their old home.

This discoloration also meant they didn’t have confidence washing their clothes or dishes because they worried the items would only get dirtier.

However, the current cause of discoloration in some waterlines throughout the city is not a safety issue, but microscopic amounts of manganese, stirred up in the lake by recent storms.

Claremore Public Works Director Jonah Humes said the level of manganese from the lake entering the water treatment plant has been higher than normal.

“It’s very safe to drink, shower with or wash with, but I can understand why people wouldn’t want to,” Humes said.

The most recent state certified third party lab testing from Accurate Environmental Laboratories in Tulsa shows that Claremore water taken from 10 different points throughout the system was absent of any bacteria that can cause illness or disease.

Inframark Area Manager Steven Sears, who oversees the Claremore water treatment facility, echoed that while the water looks gross, it is safe.

“Manganese is not a health issue, it’s a cosmetic issue,” Sears said.

“In May we recorded well over 20 inches of rain,” Sears said. “It has washed a lot of stuff in on the lake that normally wouldn’t get there and its really stirred up bad.”

“The water department was helpful,” Cardwell said, adding that the department responded quickly and politely to her request.

The city asked that if residents have complaints with any city service they call the non-emergency dispatch number, 918-341-1212, to ensure complaints are addressed in a timely manner.

“Whenever we get a call for a water problem we will go out and flush those lines,” Humes said.