Oklahomans want to be able to drink water from their sink tap without concern, but over the years, recent studies and reported violations have revealed that Oklahoma's tap water might not be as safe as consumers thought.

In 2023, Oklahoma ranked as one of the worst states for tap water.

J.D. Power published a consumer study in 2023 that Oklahoma's tap water ranked as one of the lowest in the nation when it came to customer feedback. The study analyzed feedback from costumers regarding the quality and reliability of their tap water, along with price, conservation, billing and payment, communications and customer service. Based on this study, Oklahoma ranked as the third poorest for tap water by customer ratings.

After this study came out, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Equality spoke out about how the study did not take into account the quality of the tap water itself. Speaking to FOX23, Oklahoma Water Quality Division Director Shellie Chard stated that overall, Oklahoma's tap water is safe and that "water systems in larger areas are checked daily against federal and state drinking standards. Those smaller systems are checked weekly or monthly."

'Forever chemicals' discovered in Oklahoma's tap water.

Later in 2023, a federal study found that "forever chemicals," or PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkl) substances, could be found in at least 45 percent of the country's drinking water. This prompted consumers to look into their state's water supply to see if their water contained PFAS.


The Environmental Working Group (EWG) created an interactive map for people to use to search for PFAS in their local drinking water. The map uses official records and date from public tap water systems showing where forever chemicals were found above and below the advised levels. And looking at the map, Oklahomans found a few of the state's water systems had PFAS.

ewg.org screenshot
ewg.org screenshot

The EWG also offers a Tap Water Database for consumers to search for the quality of their tap water based on zip code. And when searching local Oklahoma zip codes, Oklahomans found many issues with their local drinking water.

Oklahoma is now required to improve tap water with found forever chemicals.

Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its "first-ever national, legally enforceable drinking to protect communities from exposure to harmful per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as 'forever chemicals.'" According to the release, the reason the removal of PFAS is crucial because "exposure to PFAS has been linked to deadly cancers, impacts to the liver and heart, and immune and developmental damage to infants and children."

The EPA will set aside $9 billion to help communities, like the ones in Oklahoma, with drinking water impacted by PFAS and other emerging contaminants. Plus an additional $12 million for general drinking water for improvements.

When this was released from the EPA, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) gave this statement to 2News Oklahoma:

DEQ staff have been involved in PFAS-related meetings with other states and our federal partners for some time and have been actively preparing for EPA's new PFAS rule. DEQ staff are reviewing the information released by EPA this morning and working to determine the impact it will have on Oklahoma's drinking water systems.

Recent water issues in southwest Oklahoma.

Although there is hope, and dedicated federal funding, on the horizon for the quality of Oklahoma's tap water, local Oklahomans are presently dealing with issues, and possible future issues, of the quality of their water.

In Lawton, Oklahoma, locals have been worried about two issues that are impacting and could impact the area's drinking water. During a Comanche Nation meeting on April 8, tribal members addressed concerns about illegal dumping in East Cache Creak by the City of Lawton.

@hpollie 📣📣📣📣 Share this please! My specific tribe isn't huge and this is affecting a large population of my tribe. 📣📣📣📣 #comanche #comanchetribe #dirtywater #dirty #water #dumping #nativeland #native #nativetiktok #nativeamerican #lawtonoklahoma #lawton #viral #viraltiktok #viraltribe #tribal #poison ♬ original sound - hpollie

After receiving several complaints, Oklahoma DEQ began looking into the matter, and on April 18, the department issued a "notice of violation," which confirms that the City of Lawton is dumping sewage from its wastewater treatment plant into the creek, but Oklahoma DEQ did point out that it is not raw sewage but partially treated, although, it was not as safe as the City of Lawton led its citizens to believe. According to an article from KFOR, the City of Lawton blames an "unexpected equipment failure," but are "committed to fixing the problem."

As for the future of the water quality in Lawton, Oklahoma, residents are also concerned about the installation of a cobalt refinery from Westin Elements. Most residents have been vocal about not wanting the refinery in the area and are concerned about the future of the area's tap water. On April 23, Westin Elements presented its community impact report to the Lawton City Council. Residents showed up to speak about their opposition to the refinery and council had to cut the seven-hour meeting short.




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Despite efforts to assure Oklahoma tap water is safe, citizens are still concerned.

With the finding of PFAS and recent violations, it's no wonder Oklahomans have immense trust issues with the quality of their drinking water. Plus, there are future plans that could possibly further impact the quality of Oklahoma's tap water, which includes current and future infrastructure.

If the necessary updates aren't made to Oklahoma's aging water treatment plants and if outside infrastructure is allowed to move in near water, the future of Oklahoma's "fresh" tap water could pose more threats than it does today.

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