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Annual Water Taste Test

Best Tasting Water in Alabama!

2013 Winner
City of Fairhope Public Utilities

Water! Is there really a difference in taste?

By: George Marodis, Source Water Specialist

“Congratulations to the City of Fairhope Public
Utilities and the Irondale Water System”

  Chris Lovelace, ARWA, moderates the Taste Test Competition as Jerena Webb,
ARWA delivers water samples to the judges

Every year at the Alabama Rural Water Association’s Technical Training Conference, there is a contest to determine which utility in Alabama has the best tasting water. When informing utilities about the contest, many say, “Is there really a difference in the taste of water?” If one examines the results of past Taste Test competitions, there seems to be a pattern developing in that a few of the same utilities place very high on the list consistently. It doesn’t matter that the panel of judges change every year, they remain top contenders. Something must be making their water taste good.

Well actually there are factors that affect the taste of water. The source for instance matters. Is it surface water or groundwater? If groundwater, is it sandstone or limestone? These different sources of water cause various minerals to be dissolved in the water affecting the taste. How old is the water? Is the aquifer relatively shallow or deep? This determines how much time the water has spent travelling underground and consequently affecting the concentrations of dissolved minerals in the water. There are many more factors that can influence the taste of water, so next year don’t hesitate in entering the Taste Test competition because if you think there is not a taste difference. There is!

From left to right: Carol Sposato, ADECA, Scott Stevens, USDA RD and Aimee
White, ADEM carefully scrutinize each water sample.

Can any utility enter the Taste Test Competition? Well there are a few rules and guidelines that must be followed; the utility must meet with ADEM approval having no violations of bacteriological or chemical monitoring during the year prior to the taste test. The water samples are evaluated by Taste, Clarity & Odor.

The winner of the Taste Test Competition receives:

  • One round trip airline ticket to Washington, D. C. to compete in the National Drinking Water Contest in February 2014.
  • News release article in the ARWA magazine, “The Waterline”.
  • Taste Test Winner Sign

The Runner Up will receive:

  • Taste Test 2nd Place Sign
  • If the 1st Place winner forfeits the National Taste Test opportunity, the 2nd place winner (Runner Up) may participate in the National Drinking Water Contest.


Fairhope Public Utilities - Water Taste Test Winner!

2013 Water Taste Test Winner
City of Fairhope Public Utilities

  Kathy Horne, ARWA, Curtis Cooper, Jr., & Dan McCrory, City of Fairhope Public Utilities

City of Fairhope Public Utilities is governed by the following Board Members:
  Mayor, Tim Kant
  Kevin Boone, Council Member
  Diana J. Brewer, Council Member
  Jack Burrell, Council Member
  Mike Ford, Council Member
  Rich Mueller, Council Member

The winner of the 2013 ARWA Water Taste Test Competition is the City of Fairhope Public Utilities.

As quoted from the Fairhope Public Utilities website...

Fairhope’s Water Department dates to 1916 when a “modern” steel water tower was installed behind the City Hall (now the new Museum of History). Prior to that, from Fairhope’s founding in 1894, residents relied on a town pump located in the middle of the intersection of Fairhope Avenue and Section Street.

Today, Fairhope’s Water Department is the largest supplier of water in Baldwin County, with over 16,000 hookups, serving an estimated 45,000 people. The City operates five water towers with 6.6 million gallons of storage and pumps an average of 4.6 million gallons of water a day from ten wells, all drawing from a vast underground aquifer. In 2007, the Water Department earned a Water Fluoridation Quality Award that recognizes a year of consistent fluoride levels for optimum oral health.

In 2007, the City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant was awarded “Best Operated Plant” in the State in its size category. The Wastewater division maintains and oversees 65 wastewater lift stations and 129 miles of sewer lines.

The City of Fairhope Public Utilities also won a Water Taste Test Competition at a conference hosted by the Alabama/Mississippi Section of the AWWA in Mobile, during October 2012. Different conference, different judges? Must be something in the water!

Irondale Water System - Water Taste Test Runner Up!

2013 Runner Up
Irondale Water System

Kathy Horne, ARWA, Kenneth Clough, Ronnie Burns, Tim Johnson, Terrell Covington, Irondale Water System

City of Irondale is governed by the following
Board Members:

  Mayor, Tommy Joe Alexander
  John W. London, Council Member
  Donna Pike, Council Member
  Craig Sanderson, Council Member
  Terry Bearden, Council Member
  Bobby Joe Wilson, Council Member

The Runner Up in the Taste Test competition was the Irondale Water System located in Jefferson County.

Irondale has four water wells all located within the city limits. The Irondale Water System has approximately 3,000 active service connections providing water service to an estimated population of 9,300 people. The water utility has four storage tanks with a combined capacity of 4,100,000 gallons of water. The average daily demand from Irondale’s four wells is 1.1 million gallons water per day.


Read the Waterline article with more pictures! (pdf)



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