Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Study Shows Water Quality in Oklahoma Has Problems

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Study Shows Water Quality in Oklahoma Has Problems

Article excerpt


By Darrell Morrow Feature Editor Some water quality problems have become evident in a study of central Oklahoma's aquifer, but the full effects may not be known for many years.

"There are water quality problems in the Garber-Wellington Aquifer. We have detected pesticides and those are man-made compounds. They are somehow getting down into the aquifer. So, in that sense, the water quality has been degraded at least to some small degree," said Scott C. Christenson, hydrologist with the Geological Survey Water Resources Divison, U.S. Department of Interior, and study project chief.

Rural areas showed the least signs of water pollution, despite the fact farmers frequently use chemicals on crops, he said.

"The highest rate of occurrence of pesticides is in the urban area. We've established a network of wells in the Oklahoma City urban area. We've sampled about 42 wells and in 27 percent of those wells we have found at least one pesticide. We don't really know the source. In some cases, it is difficult to say where that came from. In some cases, we have got a pretty good indication.

"We found chlordane in one well in relatively low concentrations, but chlordane is a nasty substance. It stays around, it is very persistent, which is why people liked it for termite control. We went back to the landowner and told him he should not be drinking the water. With our analytical capabilities, anytime we can even detect chlordane, it is a health hazard.

"This individual took us out to his well house and he showed us where termites had been eating on his well house. He admitted that he had been treating the well house for years with this chlordane."

The weed killer 2-4-D was found in a Guthrie well located in a yard where an excessive amount of the herbicide had been applied and killed all vegetation several years ago, he said.

"In any number of cases, we find that people have, in fact, contaminated their own well without really realizing how susceptible a well can be to that. A certain percent of the population just thinks that the water is down there from some mysterious source.

"I've had people tell me that the water from their well came from the Rockies or it came from Canada. Fact is, the water comes probably from very nearby and it is infiltration from precipitation. If you put something on the surface of the land, there is a possibility it is going to be transported down into your well.

"I have seen a lot of stuff in well houses. You've got this little building. …

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