Kiger requests health department examine Heavener water complaints
District 3 State Rep. Lundy Kiger today announced he is asking the Oklahoma State Department of Health to investigate the City of Heavener’s water plant and any danger to public health and the environment.
“After the City of Heavener's water plant received seven Notices of Violations from the Aug. 28 water quality inspection by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, and the report stating there are possible threats to the environment and the public's health, I determined it was enough to make a written request to Gary Cox of the State's Health Department to take a serious look at the entire situation for the peace of mind of residents receiving water from the city,” Kiger said.
“Over the past five months while working on this issue, in public meetings there have been many residents describing rashes on their legs, back and arms that they didn't have until they bathed or showered with city water. There have also been a large number of people who have complained with stomach viruses and problems who have met with their doctors in trying to determine the causes,” he said.
“I am concerned for public health because DEQ thought it was important enough to include it in their report to the city and because there were violations related to high turbidity, low Ph, low chlorine and high manganese.
“High turbidity has occurred often, and when it does this is a great location for bacteria and living organisms to hide. When the water is used or consumed, it could put people at risk. Another concern is the low Ph, causing corrosive water to enter the distribution lines and causing the metal lines to break up and flake off metal and loosening the chemicals that are supposed to stay embedded in the pipes and not released. Other concerns are with water lines that the city is unable to locate that have stagnant water trapped (with no working valves to release this water) and with the city having more water loss than any place else in the state. There are reasons for concern for whatever else might also be entering the pipes and then being transported into the homes for use.
“I've asked the State Health Department to contact DEQ and discuss the violations to see if they warrant a real threat to the public's health. If they do, I would ask Health Department officials to meet with residents of Heavener to hear them describe their health issues and see if the failure of the city in making potable water is a possible cause for the health concerns that have been shared by the residents.
“In discussions with the State Health Department director, we are working on possible meeting dates. When a date is confirmed I will travel to Oklahoma City to meet with Commissioner Cox to discuss any possible next steps. I will keep the public updated on anything that is decided.
“My goal, as I've stated, is for the residents of Heavener to receive safe and clean water for use. But if there are real concerns for possible threats to the public's health, then I will do everything possible to make sure this is reviewed carefully.”
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