Oklahoma’s Water Quality 2021 – What’s the Top Water Problems in Major Cities of OK

Oklahoma residents get their water from a mix of surface and groundwater sources. Rivers, lakes, streams, and underground aquifers provide the drinking and bathing water used by homes and businesses across the state.

Industry and agriculture are mainstays in Oklahoma and both of those industries have a role in contaminating the various water supplies across the state. Fortunately, water treatment allows for the disinfection and removal of harmful bacteria. The same treatment, however, creates problems including poor tasting or smelling water.

Many cities source water from a distance requiring supplies to travel hundreds of miles over and under the surface. Along the way, the water absorbs minerals and creates an end-product known as hard water. Hard water can lead to myriad issues and is the culprit for the development of soap scum and limescale.

Common Water Problems by City

Common Water Problems

While many cities in Oklahoma experience common water issues, each source presents its own challenges and the local authority must deal with each problem in the appropriate way.


Water Source

Common Problems

Typical Symptoms

Oklahoma City

Lake Atoka

Lake Draper

Hard Water

Dry Skin


Soap Scum


Lake Oologah

Lake Spavinaw

Lake Hudson

Hard Water

Chemical Treatment

Dry Skin


Poor Taste


Lake Thunderbird

Hard Water

Chromium Treatment

Dry Skin


Chemical Taste or Smell

A final product of hard water can also lead to issues with appliances and plumbing if limescale is able to significantly build up.


Water is pumped from one of three lakes: Oologah, Spavinaw, or Hudson. The water is then treated at a water treatment facility and sent on to residences and businesses across Tulsa.

Water treatment provides Tulsa residents with water that is safe to drink and use but can result in a product that tastes poor and smells like chlorine depending on how aggressive the treatment is.

In addition, Tulsa residents are likely to experience the impacts of hard water. Hard water occurs when the water picks up dissolved mineral content. Hard water is not unsafe but can cause issues with limescale buildup. Limescale can clog faucet screens and shower heads. Some people experience irritatingly dry skin after bathing in hard water.


Most of the water used by the residents of Norman, Oklahoma is sourced from Lake Thunderbird. Norman also has a unique cooperative agreement with Oklahoma City to use its supply of water when supplementation is required to meet the needs of its homes and businesses.

Unfortunately, the water supply in Norman has been dealing with chromium contamination. Chromium does occur naturally and can enter water supplies by leaching through rock and ground layers. The toxic chemical is also introduced through industrial runoff from factories that produce textiles and leather.

High levels of chromium require aggressive treatment by the local water authority. Guidelines suggest higher levels of treatment products and the negative impacts on the end product come in the form of poor tasting or foul-smelling water.

In addition, residents in Norman often endure hard water that leads to dry skin, stains on sinks, and clogged shower heads.