The city of Claremore is out from under an Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality consent order issued in 2017 for water quality.
Although legally compliant, the city is continuing improvements to water infrastructure over the next five years.
In May, 2017, DEQ issued a consent order to more than 150 municipalities in the state based on a requirement by the EPA that drinking water should not exceed 80 milligrams of trihalomethanes (THM) per liter. THM is a group of four chemicals formed when disinfectants in drinking water mix with naturally occurring organic residue in the system.
While high levels of THM can have negative health effects, City Manager Jim Thomas said, “you would have to drink 1,000 gallons a day, 7 days a week, for 30 years for it to possibly have any effect.”
“In my opinion it is an EPA overreach,” Thomas said. “No one has died from drinking to many THMs.”
When the city began measuring THM in 2015, city water quality was occasionally in excess of 170 milligrams per liter.
The numbers decreased steadily as work was completed on the four-year, $21 million water treatment plant project.
“Our biggest challenge was adequately processing water,” Thomas said.
Before improvements the water plant had the capacity to process 4 million gallons of water a day but was serving 5 million gallons of water to customers.
When the improvements were completed in December, the city reported that the plant had the capacity to pump 8.2 million gallons of water a day, which should provide for municipal growth through 2045.
Other improvements during that time were dead end waterlines that were transformed into loops to keep water in the system flowing.
Between the second quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019 the city reported fewer than 70 milligrams per liter, equaling a year of compliance.
However, the city isn’t stopping there.
“What you’ll see in the next five years is like what you’ll see on First Street,” Thomas said, referencing a waterline replacement project that will be starting later this month.
“Claremore has a lot of old water infrastructure,” Thomas said. “We’ll look at those lines and continue to make those kinds of improvements.”