EPA standards force city of Tulsa to change water-treatment practices

TULSA - There are some changes coming to Tulsa's drinking water.

In order to meet updated Environmental Protection Agency standards, the city of Tulsa is adding chloramine, which is chlorine mixed with ammonia, to the chemical mix used to treat Tulsa's water.

According to city officials, there will be two main groups affected by the change, dialysis patients and folks with fish. Both groups already remove chlorine from the water, now they have an extra step.

"You have to make sure that your dechlorinator removes chloramines.  If it doesn't you could end up with a lot of issues," said Jarod Young, with Filtered Aquatics.

The city has already contacted local dialysis clinics.

As for the average person, officials say most won't notice the change.

"A lot of people in the community have been exposed to chloraminated water and they didn't even know it," said Joan Arthur, engineer for the City of Tulsa and the chloramine project manager.

Chloramine is used already in cities like Oklahoma City, Dallas, Norman and Sand Springs.

The city will be adding chloramine to limit the byproducts sometimes created by chlorine because of their side effects.

"These chemicals have been shown to potentially cause cancer, and some other related health affects and the EPA has decided the levels allowed in drinking water need to be lower," said Arthur.

There are some who are concerned the health effects of chloramine could be worse.

"People all over the country that are reporting and experiencing health affects, respiratory, digestive, epidemiological, skin," said Jeanine Kinney, Tulsa resident.

Kinney brought her concerns to several city council meetings. She said there's not enough known about chloramine.

"Why would we put something in our water that we do not know is safe, there are no studies that can back it up, it's merely their opinion, even though everybody else is using it, will not prove it's safe," said Kinney.

City officials don't believe there's cause for concern.

"If there's new evidence that becomes available, the city of Tulsa will always take that into consideration," said Arthur.

Tulsa is expected to make the switch to chloramine in early February.

You can read more about chloramine online at the City of Tulsa's website .

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