El Reno woman says discolored, smelly water plagues her home

EL RENO, Okla (KFOR)- Several El Reno residents have complained about discolored water plaguing their home for months, including one who says her water is not only grossly colored but smells of sulfur. The City of El Reno is taking its first steps in a multi-million dollar pipeline project that could help.

News 4 first aired a story about concerns surrounding El Reno’s water in November.

El Reno City Manager, Matt Sandidge told KFOR then the reason behind the water discoloration was an ongoing $7 million water plant project.

“That’s caused us to shut the water down occasionally throughout this time period. When the water gets shut down, once it starts back up, it may disrupt some of the iron deposits that are within the lines and cause isolated pockets of discolored water,” said Sandidge.

He said a new valve had been added that same week in November which should have subsided the water discoloration problem.

The project is meant to increase the capacity of the city’s water plant.

“We’ll be able to produce more water. Currently, we produce the majority of our water, but we also supplement our water supply with Oklahoma City water. This will allow us to produce even more water. Also, it’s just some quality upgrades as far as paint and exterior improvements and those kinds of things as well,” said Sandidge.

Sandidge slated the project to be completed in spring 2023.

Now, a day out from July, and the issue of water discoloration is still ongoing as well as the project.

“There are some things that have been delayed a little bit. I mean, we’re a little bit behind, but we’re wrapping it up currently. We’re actually doing the final punch list this week,” Sandidge told KFOR Friday morning.

He stands by his November comment as to why the water may be discolored, but said it should be an isolated incident that rarely happens.

Out of 6,000 water customers in El Reno, Sandidge claims there have only been two discolored water complaints since March.

A complaint was made on social media earlier this week by a resident who said, “El Reno, Ok residents. How many of you have nasty drinking water like this? I am sick of this problem. It’s time for the City to replace the water lines and with water like this, we shouldn’t have to pay a water bill. Can’t drink it or wash my clothes. They turn brown!!!!!,” said the resident. Attached to his post was a pitcher filled with yellow-colored water.

Sandidge said they were made aware of the social media post and immediately resolved the issue. The post has since been removed.

Another homeowner is in the same boat and talked with News 4 about her experience Friday morning. She doesn’t wish to reveal her identity for personal reasons.

She walked News 4 through her home, showing the washing machine, the bath tub, and the toilet tank.

“I’ll open up my water for like three hours and it was just red water discoloration all over the place,” she said.

A video from the homeowner shows her kitchen faucet was running brown-colored water at one point.

The toilet tank was filled with what appeared to be more discolored water. She claims the orange tint to the water has stained her tank.

The inside pf an El Reno woman’s toilet tank Friday morning. KFOR photo.

“It’s just the rust, just is permanent,” she added.

She showed KFOR a postal note she received from the City back in March as well. The note explained how the City’s drinking water that was tested between October 2022 and December 2022 did not meet state and federal turbidity and chlorine residual regulations.

“Our water system recently violated a drinking water requirement. Although this was not an emergency, as our customers, you have a right to know what happened,” the postal note stated.

Sandidge said that postal note had nothing to do with any discoloration in the water though.

Postal note sent to El Reno residents in March. KFOR photo.

Sandidge told KFOR most of the pipelines in the city are old and need to be replaced which could also be another cause for discoloration.

“We’ve replaced, over the last 10 years about 18 miles, maybe a little more than 18 miles worth of line. [We’re] just replacing all of the old cast iron lines with the newer technology that doesn’t do what the old cast iron does. It’s a process. We’re systematically replacing them, and we’re going to keep doing that,” stated Sandidge.

He said the El Reno City Council has recently approved $5M specifically for pipeline replacement.

“We’re in the design process to replace about three and a half miles of water line. The older water lines here in town, those are going to be replaced with that money. So we have some major, major lines. It’s a big project. Those will be out to bid in the coming months and under construction shortly thereafter,” explained Sandidge. “We’re very excited about our new infrastructure. [We’re] wrapping up the one project at the plant. We have a well field water project that’s underway also. And then also, we’re going to be replacing this water line, so we’re excited about it. That’s continued improvements.”

In the meantime, Sandidge recommends anyone who is having water discoloration issues to phone the City’s Public Works department. Their phone number is 405-422-2139.

Sandidge told KFOR if they don’t receive a formal complaint from the homeowner we spoke with Friday morning, he’d check in with her to look at her water issues.

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