by DANNY WADE | Senior Editor
Everyone in Humboldt knows they can expect crystal clear, good tasting water when they turn on the faucet—and they would be right. Now, the entire state knows just how good Humboldt water is. Last week, Humboldt Utilities was awarded the title of State’s Best Tasting Water.
“It is an honor to be named the statewide winner in 2023,” said Humboldt Utilities General Manager Alex Smith. “Our dedicated staff works hard to provide the people we serve with the highest water quality possible at the lowest possible rate. We take that responsibility very seriously.”
When asked what the key is to having the best water in Tennessee, Humboldt Utilities Water Treatment Plant Operator Steven Tucker said, “The key is—do what we’re trained to do. We always strive to be the best.”
“I am so proud of our team at Humboldt Utilities on this great accomplishment,” said Humboldt Utilities Waste Water Operator Tyler Landrum. “It truly takes all of us working together to make this possible and are so thankful for the recognition in providing such an award-winning service to our customers.”
Humboldt Utilities participated in the Region 8 best water competition earlier this year and took home the gold. There are 10 counties in Region 8: Gibson, Lake, Dyer, Lauderdale, Obion, Crockett, Weakley, Carroll, Henry and Benton. Winning Region 8 allowed Humboldt Utilities to compete on the state level with all 11 regions.
The statewide Best Tasting Water competition recently took place at the Gatlinburg Convention Center where drinking water samples were judged on their clarity, bouquet and taste. Landrum said he physically drove a gallon of Humboldt Utilities’ water to Gatlinburg, Tenn. for the competition.
Humboldt Utilities and the other finalists that qualified to compete by winning a regional event were Lakeview Utility District, West Knox Utility District, Norris Water Commission, City of McMinnville, Winchester Utility System, Second South Cheatham Utility District, Loretto Utilities, and Eastside Utility District.
There are literally hundreds of utility companies in Tennessee. For Humboldt Utilities to have the best tasting water is a major accomplishment. GM Smith said Humboldt had competed in the past, but never won.
The next step is to compete on the national level. The national Best Tasting Water in America competition will take place in Washington D.C. in February during the National Rural Water Association’s Rural Water Rally Conference. Smith, Landrum and Tucker will need to figure out how to get a gallon of water to the competition. Landrum and Smith plan to attend, but will probably fly to D.C. They will probably ship the water to Washington D.C. since that quantity of liquid would not be allowed on an airplane.
“For the residents who purchase water from Humboldt Utilities, they can now also take pride in knowing that their water ‘reigns’ supreme in Tennessee as it was recently named the state’s best tasting water in a statewide competition conducted by the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts (TAUD),” as stated in a TAUD press release.
Humboldt Utilities pumps fresh, clean water from the Memphis Aquifer. Their wells run about 250 ft. deep with pumps located around 150 ft. Water from the Memphis Aquifer is some of the freshest, cleanest water in the world. Smith says starting with good quality water allows for less processing.
Tucker said the water comes into the water processing plant where it is first goes through the aeration tower. Then, in layman’s terms, goes through a purification system and pumped into the water towers.
“The aquifer’s pure water means there’s no need to filter for iron,” said Tucker. “We have to do less treatment due to the quality of the water that comes out of the ground. Other utility companies that use surface water have to do much more filtration.”
Another factor that might have played a role in winning the Best Tasting Water contest is the fact that Humboldt has a high demand for water. On average, they pump somewhere between 3-million to 3.5-million gallons of water per day. With a growing resident, commercial and industrial growth, there is a higher demand to supply water throughout the city. In turn, this keeps fresh water flowing through the water system
Humboldt Utilities is no stranger at winning awards. Last year, they earned three major awards for their exceptional service. GM Smith said these awards are not his, but the entire staffs from top to bottom. Humboldt Utilities won the TN Municipal Electric Power Association’s Community Service Award for 2022 in the “small system” classification, which is for municipal utility companies with less than 10,000 customers.
For the 10th consecutive year from 2012 until 2021, Humboldt Utilities WWTP (wastewater treatment plant) was the recipient of the Operational Excellence Award in 2022. The Kentucky-Tennessee Water Environment Association presents this award to the best of the best utility companies across two states.
The third award of 2022 was through the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Smith said TDEC selects one utility company project each year. Humboldt’s new wastewater treatment plant was selected as TDEC’s project of the year.
“The customers of Humboldt Utilities should take comfort in knowing they have a staff working hard everyday to provide them with clean, great tasting water that’s so necessary in our everyday lives,” said Kyle Grainger of Knoxville’s WVLT-TV who participated as one of the judges of the competition, as stated in a TAUD press release. “This is truly an accomplishment to be proud of.”
The Tennessee Association of Utility Districts (TAUD) is comprised of America’s finest water, wastewater and natural gas personnel providing the highest quality of service for Tennessee’s residents. TAUD provides training, technical assistance and advocacy to these industry professionals.
The next time you are looking to quench your thirst, instead of reaching for a bottle of water that has much fewer regulations as to quality and purity, pour yourself a glass of the best tasting water in Tennessee courtesy of Humboldt Utilities. Cheers!