Is Omaha's Drinking Water Safe? FOX 42 Investigates

Maureen WurtzOMAHA (KPTM)-It is National Drinking Water Week, but is Omaha's tap water safe?Claims of large amounts of chemicals have caused Omaha to be ranked as one of the ten worst cities for drinking water, and FOX 42 decided to put those claims to the test. "I wouldn't be surprised if there are certain things in there," said Heather Budka. Budka said she only drinks filtered or bottled water. "You never know what's in it," said Budka. Budka said the "strange" taste turns her away from tap water, which is the opposite for Rachiel Dau. "It always tastes the same to me, I don't see the difference," said Dau. FOX 42 took water samples from three different parts of the city to Midwest Laboratories to be tested to figure out what chemicals may be in the water. "When we are talking about things that may be harmful, it's the dose that makes the poison," said Jerry King, technical director at Midwest Laboratories. So can you drink the tap water in all parts of Omaha? "The water is safe," said King. FOX 42 tested for chemicals that showed up in the previous report, along with a dozen others including bacteria and metals. "Drinking water is very highly scrutinized throughout the country and Omaha. They are very careful about the type of water that's going to be given to the community," said King. King said to those who may only drink bottled water, it's often just tap water from other cities. "In terms of what is required to be healthy or safe bottled water, it has the same requirements and same maximum contaminate levels of city drinking water," said King. Some of the chemicals that FOX 42 tested for that didn't show up were nitrate, mercury, manganese, lead, and atrazine. When nothing turned up, and her water turned out clean, Budka was shocked. "I'm more surprised that nothing's in it than if something was in it," said Budka. Dau said she knew it all along. "I'm not surprised at all. I know that's the point of having water so you can drink," said Dau. One of the worst things you can do is have filtered water and not change the filter, warned King. King said that once the filter is full of chemicals, and water goes through it, it'll add those chemicals back into the water.M.U.D just released a report that says Omaha's drinking water meets or exceeds federal and local standards.Here is a link to the report: The annual water quality report is reviewed by the EPA and the State of Nebraska Health and Human Services and includes explanations of test results. The report refers to water that has been treated and delivered to customers' taps. If you have more questions about drinking water, call the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800.426.4791 or go to: Sources of M.U.D. tap water include the Missouri and Platte Rivers and the Dakota sandstone aquifer. Water is pumped from intakes and wells maintained by the District. We soften, clarify, filter and disinfect the water to standards for safe drinking water. "Drinking Water Week is a great opportunity to take time to realize how integral safe drinking water is to our everyday lives," said M.U.D. Vice-President of Water Operations Joel Christensen. "Now is the time to understand the roles we play in caring for our precious water supplies and systems to guarantee we have safe drinking water for generations to come." What can all of us do to protect our drinking water supply? More than one million tons of hazardous waste from products used around the house enters the waters of our continent every year. To protect water quality: Do not flush medications down the toilet. Do not dump waste into storm sewers. Donate unused paint to community groups or take it to a household hazardous waste collection facility like Under the Sink at 4001 S. 120th St.. The center serves Douglas and Sarpy counties. For hours and a list of items accepted, visit Reduce the use of fertilizers, pesticides and toxic cleaners.