Every summer, thousands of young students arrive in the great city of Norman eager to begin a new journey at The University of Oklahoma. The excited freshman settles into their dorm room, and is likely thrilled, and possibly a little nervous, as to what their future of independence may bring once Mom or Dad finally leaves. However – all too soon – something horrible happens. The college-budgeted, or possibly environmentally responsible, individual approaches their sink, cup in hand, to procure a drink of water. The cup is filled, decently cold, and immediately following a big thirst-quenching gulp the unfortunate epiphany occurs: Norman water is awful. As many people who frequent this otherwise wondrous city will attest, local unfiltered tap water is atrocious and the taste seems borderline non-potable. A simple question resonates among those coming from other U.S. regions, and those that have called Norman home for years: Why can’t this water just be normal?
The grievances about Norman water go beyond just the “taste” of the water itself. The poor quality of the water has forced many students at the University of Oklahoma to seek out alternate sources of drinking water. The primary alternate source that students tend to use is plastic bottled water. Many students choose to drink bottled water over the Norman tap water because of the certainty that what you are drinking is entirely uncontaminated. While many students drink bottled water, very few of us dispose of the empty plastic bottles in an environmentally friendly way. Another alternate source would be water filters. Even though filtration is an effective type of water treatment and purification, often time there is only partial removal of drinking water contaminants depending upon the type of water filter used. Additionally, between production and packaging, these means of water consumption create environmental strain through excess waste. OU has made the move to add more water filtration systems for students to refill water bottles, however these systems are few in number compared to the number of campus buildings. If Norman’s quality of water was improved, it is likely that many students would switch back to tap water, reducing their overall ecological footprints.
While visiting Tulsa, tap water is now regarded as a splendid gift, or an uncommon blessing. Bottled water is unnecessary and the overall quality of the water is often taken for granted. Upon returning to Norman, the disappointing reminder awaits. The first shower back in town is commenced with a rather peculiar smell and soft, happy skin will soon feel rougher and slightly irritated. At a local restaurant, if the establishment’s soda machine utilizes the region’s unfiltered water, an unpleasantly pungent taste is noticed with the first sip. And in one’s living quarters, bottled or heavily filtered water is once again integral to everyday life. Let’s face it: the Norman community has been exposed to unclean water for years. It’s time that we take action. Fixing these water issues will ensure the Norman community access to clean safe drinking water and protect the public health of all individuals. If we don’t take action now, the issues will continue to develop and worsen.
The following discussions throughout blogs in the upcoming weeks will address this disconcerting reality with specific regards to the region’s source of water, why it is tastes “off,” and if there exists a reason for health concern with its consumption. Furthermore, ecological, economic, and environmental impacts will be evaluated such as significant utilization of bottled water, the association of inherent risks and hazards, and the possibility of political economic relevance.
image from: http://water-313.wikispaces.com