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Public utilities face off in annual water-tasting competition

Charlotte County takes top honors.

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  • | 7:40 a.m. April 12, 2017
  • East County
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Fourteen-year-old Logan Veith gets his favorite beverage from the kitchen faucet, so he had the proper credentials when asked to judge the taste of water.

Greenfield Plantation’s Veith served as one of five judges during a water taste competition April 7 hosted by Region 10 of the American Water Works Association’s Florida Section, at the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Sarasota Service Office.

“It was really fun,” said Veith, an eighth-grader at Carlos E. Haile Middle School, as he peered at the nine cups of water he had sampled.

Samples came in glass gallon-sized jugs from water treatment facilities throughout Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and Hardee counties.

Logan admitted it was hard to differentiate between them, in terms of color, taste, odor and clarity — the four categories for judging. Some did have more sulfur-heavy smells and tastes.

He gave perfect scores to four of the samples.

“I think (sample) A or E is what I have at home,” he said. “I drank a lot before I came.”

This year’s taste-test winner was Charlotte County, which dethroned Sarasota County, the winner for the past three years. Charlotte County advances to the state-level competition April 25 during the Florida Water Resource Conference in Palm Beach. Florida’s winner will compete at the AWWA’s national contest in June.

No order of finish was announced other than the winner.

Although the taste contest is mostly for fun — and bragging rights — utility providers said it is important because it helps raise issues like water supply, treatment and water quality.

“We have so many regulations in the water industry,” said Katie Gilmore, superintendent for the Manatee County Water Treatment Plant. “But, every water plant manager wants the water to smell good, look good and taste good for customers.”


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