Customers of the Lenoir City Utilities Board get to enjoy the best tasting water among eight counties in East Tennessee.
The Tennessee Association of Utility Districts recently announced LCUB the winner of its annual "Best Tasting Water" contest in Region Two.
Herb Sarten, manager of water and wastewater, attributed the win to water plant operators and the utility's spring source.
"Of course, it has to have very little treatment, and I think it's more aesthetically pleasing to the palette," Sarten said. "I'm not one of those people who can taste and smell very well, so water to me is water, but people that can tell a difference have always said that the spring water is really good water."
Sarten said it was the first time LCUB has competed in the competition.
The utility pumps about 900,000 gallons of water from its spring source each day to supplement the utility's Fort Loudoun Lake water supply. The spring is located off Highway 11 near Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of Riding.
"The water plant on Muddy Creek (Road) was put in the '50s. There were a few years that we didn't pump from that source for various reasons and then about three years ago we started it back up," Sarten said.
A panel of judges, including Alcoa Commissioner Ken White, Maryville Mayor Tom Taylor and Russell Biven with WBIR-TV, rated the drinking water samples on clarity, bouquet and taste.
"It's kind of a subjective what you like and what tastes good," Sarten said.
But he isn't complaining about the subjectivity. "It's mostly bragging rights. We can talk trash for at least one year," he said.
The other competing utilities were City of Alcoa, First Utility District of Knox County, Hallsdale Powell Utility District, Knox-Chapman Utility District, Maryville Water Quality Control, Northeast Knox Utility District, South Blount Utility District, Tellico Area Services System and West Knox Utility District.
Region Two consists of Blount, Cocke, Grainger, Hamblen, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon and Sevier counties.
As the regional winner, LCUB qualifies for a statewide competition at the association's conference in Gatlinburg in August when 11 regional winners will face off.
"I'm confident in the spring source. It's a good source of water. People have bragged on it for years, so I don't know why we wouldn't have as good a chance as anybody," Sarten said.
The state winner will then compete in Washington, D.C., for the title of best tasting water in America.