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Rathbun Regional Water Association wins best tasting water in Iowa award

Rathbun Regional Water Association wins best tasting water in Iowa award
WHO Radio to air interview March 20

Rathbun Regional Water Association took home the Best Tasting Water in Iowa Award at the 2018 Iowa Rural Water Association’s 43rdAnnual Conference held in Des Moines February 12-14.  

A field of 22 rural water utilities from around the state submitted samples of their water, straight from the tap in an effort to identify the tastiest water in the state.

The panel of water tasting judges included Annette Sweeney, USDA-Rural Development State Director, Kate Sand, Community Programs Director with USDA-Rural Development, Charlie Detrick, State Engineer with USDA-Rural Development, and Jason Marcel, IDNR ESD Field Services Bureau Chief.

Placing second in the water tasting competition was a tie between Cedar Falls Utilities and Poweshiek Water Association/Amana Plant. Third place also resulted in a tie between Southern Iowa Water Association/Creston Water Works and the City of Pisgah.   

Jer Buckingham, who has worked at RRWA for more than 20 years and has served as plant superintendent since 2013, says the recognition is important to RRWA. “We strive to provide safe, clean drinking water every day,” he said.  

Kathy Law, Iowa Rural Water Association says the competition is part of a Quality On Tap! Campaign. “The contest helps emphasize the high quality, standards and, consequently, taste of water in rural America,” she says.

Buckingham says the rural conference allows water treatment staff to get trained on new techniques and provides continuing education. “It’s a great opportunity to meet with vendors and network with other rural water associations,” he explained.

Those in attendance learned about the benefits of drone technology. “The use of drones can help us inspect infrastructure and towers and, in many cases, can reduce the need to climb the towers for inspection,” he said.

RRWA will represent Iowa as they compete with other state winners from around the country in the national “Great American Water Taste Test” contest next year. The Rural Water Rally is held annually in Washington, D.C. each February and is an annual legislative event for the state affiliates of the National Rural Water Association.

RRWA CEO, John Glenn, and Buckingham will be featured on WHO Radio’s, The Big Show, with Bob Quinn on Tuesday, March 20 betweennoon and 1:00 pm. The agricultural show can be heard each weekday in Iowa and surrounding states and is located at 1040 AM.  

The two will discuss the ongoing water quality protection activities of the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance, of which RRWA is a founding member.  For more than 20 years the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance has worked with landowners in the Rathbun Lake Watershed to protect Rathbun Lake, the water source for the utility.

The installation of conservation practices by these landowners has made a substantial impact, reducing annual sediment delivery to Rathbun Lake by 55,000 tons and 238,000 pounds of phosphorous.

Protecting the lake is important as more and more people rely on it for their drinking water.

The capacity of RRWA’s first water treatment facility, built in 1975, was four million gallons per day (MGD) and supplied drinking water to four counties. The utility has seen steady growth and now provides clean drinking water to 18 counties and 53 communities in southern Iowa and northern Missouri. Since 2007, RRWA has invested $40 million in improvements to the Association’s drinking water system which includes the new water treatment plant.

Photo Caption: Jer Buckingham, Rathbun Regional Water Association's Plant Superintendent, receives the Best Tasting Water in Iowa Award at the 2018 Iowa Rural Water Association’s 43rd Annual Conference held in Des Moines February 12-14.