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Otoe-Missouria Tribe Lifts Its Nearly 7 Week Boil Order

Nov 8, 2016

About 250 Otoe-Missouria citizens can now safely drink tap water the tribe produces now that a nearly two-month boil order has been lifted.

September flooding brought a lot of dirt to Kaw Lake, which led to too much sediment in the tribe's water plant after the floodgates were opened to relieve the swollen reservoir. That led to the Sept. 23 boil order, The Journal Record’s Sarah Terry-Cobo reports:

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality issued the mandatory boil order after a routine inspection on Sept. 22 found the water was 34 times cloudier than state laws allow. An agency engineer measured cloudiness at 7.5 times allowable levels the following day, and the boil order was issued that evening.

Cloudy water isn’t necessarily unsafe to drink. But cloudiness interferes with tests to show water has been properly disinfected and is free from potentially deadly bacteria, viruses, and pathogens.

Otoe-Missouria spokeswoman Heather Payne told newspaper the tribe spent about $10,000 on bottled water for its citizens.

Since the boil order in late September, the tribe provided 14 pallets of bottled water to residents, about 26,200 bottles. The nation’s environmental department also set out recycle bins to collect empty bottles, she said.

DEQ spokeswoman Erin Hatfield said the water was consistently below the allowable cloudiness levels before the boil order was lifted. Payne said her staff worked closely with the state agency to get its treated water back into compliance.

Stillwater had similar issues, but the city’s treatment plant is much larger than the Otoe-Missouria’s, and could handle the increased sediment more easily. The tribe plans to break ground on a new water treatment plant in about 18 months.

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