What's in Your Water? Pt. 1

By Hema Mullur
NewsWest 9

To drink or not to drink.

For the thousands moving to West Texas, that's often the question they have about our water.
Most people know it doesn't taste so great, but we wanted to know why.

It makes up 60% of your body weight, and everyone knows, drink 8 glasses a day.

"The Odessa water is awful," said one resident.  "I haven't drunk Odessa water for years.  Can't stand it, don't like it."

"It's pretty terrible," another agreed.

But West Texas water may not be as thirst quenching as it looks.

"We live in the Permian Basin, which means there was an ocean here years ago so it's going to have a high salt content," said Matt Kerley, Assistant Superintendent of Operations at Midland's water purification plant.

So besides salt, what is it that makes our water taste so different?

"Salt, calcium, magnesium, we have copper, sulfates, small amounts of lead," Kerley said.

And that's after a lot of filtering.

The water plant in Midland cleans up to 32 million gallons a day, coming for the most part from Lakes Ivie, Spence, and Thomas.

"This is where that raw water actually comes up from this raw water pit over here," Kerley showed us.  "It comes up through the bottom of the distribution tower, dispenses it to each set of basins.  It goes into the rapid mix to get a quick mix on the chemicals, then into the floculators."

Mixed with aluminum sulfate for disinfection.

"It uses postive ions with the negative in the water," he explained.  "They join together to make little balls, little dirt balls and make them heavy so they will settle to the bottom."

And after all that the water goes from murky to clear.

"We're regulated by state and EPA, and we're well below all those maximum contaminant levels," Kerley said.  "So it means that it's safe to drink."

Safe to drink, but not fun to drink. We wondered what's left in the water?

We took samples from Odessa, Big Spring, and Midland to get tested.  And you might be surprised by what's coming out of your faucet.

Wednesday night at ten we'll have the results of our test.  We'll compare what we found to the standards set forth by the federal government, and some of our results may surprise you.