Chilton water named ‘best tasting’ in state

Published 2:06 pm Thursday, July 1, 2010

If you want the best tasting water in Alabama, look no further than Chilton Water Authority, according to the Alabama Rural Water Association.

CWA won the state’s 2010 Drinking Water Taste Test, based on a sample submitted to a panel of judges.

When asked what gives the water its pleasant taste, CWA Manager Doug Bice said the sample was taken from a well supplied by a limestone aquifer in northwest Chilton County. The key is in the limestone, he indicated.

“It’s just a high quality, very clear water,” Bice said. “The limestone adds calcium to the water and brings the pH up.”

Several different factors can affect the taste of water either positively or negatively. One of the most common causes of bad tasting water in homes, Bice said, is a result of pressure buildup in hoses. If a hose is left connected to an outdoor spigot and becomes heated by the sun, pressure builds up and chemicals from the hose can leach into the water. The water can go back into the home and, as a result, have a taste similar to that of drinking from a hose. To prevent this, Bice recommends disconnecting hoses when not in use.

“That’s most of the complaints we get,” he said.

CWA serves more than 8,700 active customers from eight wells and 10 storage tanks that distribute water throughout 900 miles of main line pipe. Water is drawn from the Coker Aquifer, the Jemison Chert (both sandstone-like formations) and two limestone formations in northwest Chilton County. The system is capable of pumping about 7.5 million gallons per day.

Ironically, the area known as Dry Valley, between Jemison and Montevallo, has some of the most powerful wells.

“Everybody always thought it was real dry up there, but there is more water there than anywhere in the county,” Bice joked.

By winning the state taste test, a representative from CWA will receive a round trip airline ticket to Washington, D.C. to compete in the National Drinking Water Taste Test in February 2011.

And, from what Bice has seen, the taste testing is taken seriously.

“It’s just like somebody’s judging wine. They sit there and whirl it around,” he said.

On a side note, a Chilton County resident received one of two $750 scholarships awarded by ARWA in the Central Region. The recipient is Nicole Smith, the daughter of Sherry Smith and a 2010 graduate of Isabella High School. Smith plans to attend Troy State in Montgomery in the fall to pursue an accounting degree.