NORMAN — Water samples recently collected by the city of Norman found levels of chromium-6 ranging from 10 to 90 parts per billion, Utilities Director Ken Komiske said Thursday.
Komiske said the findings were no surprise given Norman’s location and well-documented history of having heavy metals in its drinking water.
“Nothing has really changed,” he said. “We tested every well we have, we tested lake water, we tested the water after it was treated ... we covered it all.”
Norman water officials began collecting the samples after the Environmental Protection Agency suggested independent testing by utilities may be a good idea to screen for chromium-6.
Currently, the limit set by the EPA for total chromium in drinking water is 100 parts per billion.
Four other cities that were part of a drinking water contaminant study released in December 2010 also have confirmed the chromium-6 levels reported by the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit.
According to the EWG, water utilities in Wisconsin, Hawaii and Oregon confirmed the results revealed in the group’s study, which was released Dec. 20, 2010. None of the four cities had chromium-6 readings as high as Norman’s.
In the study, Norman’s drinking water tested at 12.9 parts per billion — the highest of the 35 cities tested.
Komiske said that chromium-6 is an extremely common substance and that it’s found throughout the world.
He said the levels in Norman can be attributed to the Garber-Wellington aquifer (known to contain arsenic, chromium-6 and other substances) and are not the result of any other source such as industrial pollution.
“It is naturally occurring here ... it’s going to be in the soil, it’s going to be in your plants and it’s going to be in your water,” Komiske said. “But is it safe to drink? Absolutely.”
Norman’s water safe, EPA administrator says