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A Denney for Your Thoughts – Erwin water springs forth

By Connie Denney

We drink it, cook with it, brush our teeth with it, bathe in it. It is important to know our water is healthy. The very thought of a good, fresh cup of water can send us to the faucet, not really mindful of the source.

I remember my Granny Martin saying she wanted a drink right out of the north corner of the spring. Certainly, she had carried her share of water in buckets before it was available from an indoor faucet at the Washington County home that hosted many family visits.

We Erwin Utilities water customers are fortunate to get our water from a spring and three wells.  It won the People’s Choice Best Tasting Drinking Water award at the Annual Water Professionals Conference for the Kentucky/Tennessee Section of the American Water Works Association in July (news story and photo were published in the Aug. 2, 2017, issue of this newspaper).

Clay Hepburn, water treatment supervisor, says that, yes, there actually was a tasting, which served as the Sunday afternoon kick-off as a public outreach event for the conference. Not only did Erwin’s water win, this was the third consecutive year. That’s also the number of times it has been entered!

This column was in the pipes, so to speak, when the system’s water quality report for 2016 came in the mail. If you are an Erwin Utilities water customer, you got one, too. Clay noted that it reflects “no violations,” not unusual for Erwin Utilities. The report details regulations and data required in such a document. 

Since it is his job to ensure the drinking water Erwin Utilities distributes meets all state and federal requirements, Clay is the guy to call with any questions about the report – or the processes for meeting requirements. In fact, his direct telephone number is on the line: 735-4563.

The report includes information about water sources, a topic I had asked Clay about. He hopes “… customers understand how fortunate they are to have the high quality water that they do.”  Join me in thinking of underground water filtered naturally through limestone rock as it comes into our community.

“Many utilities depend on surface waters like rivers and lakes for their supply. The water quality of these sources is much more variable than the groundwater sources that Erwin Utilities uses,” Clay explains; adding that with the level of treatment “much simpler and more cost-effective” here, it helps keep rates reasonable on this “best tasting water.”

As for his personal opinion, Clay acknowledged possible prejudice, but said he had not tasted any better.

O’Brien Spring, located at the end of Gay Street, where it meets Hulen Avenue, still among our water sources, supplied the Erwin Water Company founded by A. R. Brown, early 1900s civic leader, businessman, inventor, mayor … the list could go on.

Twerpy Brown Stromberg, his granddaughter, told me he put in the first water delivery system (later sold to the city) and wanted it for one thing, to have his own indoor plumbing to replace the outhouse.

We are all grateful!