Historic Winter Weather Impacting Oklahoma’s Drinking Water Systems

For Immediate Release:  February 18, 2021

Contact:  Erin Hatfield, (405) 437-8468 or erin.hatfield@deq.ok.gov

Due to Oklahoma’s historic weather event, drinking water systems statewide have been impacted. Many systems throughout the state are experiencing issues related to water loss, and DEQ anticipates that once temperatures rise above freezing and frozen pipes begin to thaw, many more systems and customers will be affected.  It is likely that DEQ’s emergency storm response will continue for several weeks.

When a water system experiences extremely low or no water pressure, DEQ recommends a precautionary boil advisory to ensure that people have safe water for drinking, cooking, handwashing and bathing.

“Unfortunately, we expect the number of precautionary boil advisories and, potentially, mandatory boil orders to increase over the next few days. In order to assist Oklahoma’s drinking water systems, the State Environmental Laboratory will be operating seven days a week to analyze additional samples to ensure safe water,” said Shellie Chard, DEQ’s Water Quality Division Director.

If someone has extremely low water pressure or total water loss, it is important that they notify their water service provider as quickly as possible and follow these recommendations:

  • Once the water comes back on, flush the water for five minutes or until fresh, clear water comes out of the tap.
  • Boil the water at a hard, rolling boil for at least one minute before consumption, drinking, use in food preparation (including baby formula), brushing teeth, making ice, wound care, and bathing infants who may ingest the water, or use another drinking water source such as bottled water until the tap water is safe to drink again.
  • It is recommended to continue boiling the water (or use bottled water) for at least 72 hours or until your water system says the water is safe to drink again, whichever comes later.

In order to protect the health of their customers, drinking water systems routinely issue precautionary boil orders when there are known leaks in the system. Mandatory boil orders are issued by DEQ when there is a violation of state and federal drinking water regulations.

For more information on statewide precautionary and mandatory boil orders, you may visit DEQ’s website at www.deq.ok.gov or follow DEQ on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.