Former Basin Board Member Helps Judge Regional Drinking Water Contest

Judging water samples

Housh Ghovaee, far right, former secretary of the Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Board, judges water samples.

We expect it to be odorless, colorless and refreshing right out of the tap. But not all water tastes the same, as was demonstrated when the City of Dunedin won the region’s Best-Tasting Drinking Water Contest.

The contest was sponsored by Region IV of the Florida Section of the American Water Works Association. The region covers Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sumter counties.

Housh Ghovaee, former secretary of the Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Board, was one of the judges that tasted samples from 13 area water utilities. The cities of Clearwater, Dunedin, Lakeland, St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs and Zephyrhills competed. County utilities included Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk. The Florida Governmental Utility Authority and Veolia Water rounded out the competitors.

“The drinking water competition is wonderful,” said Ghovaee. “I’m happy to see that we’re challenging the utilities to get better at producing quality drinking water.”

Each utility brings a gallon of water that was collected within the past 24 hours. The water is presented to the judges at room temperature and judges rate the samples on taste, appearance and odor.

“The biggest challenge for me was color,” said Ghovaee. “I thought they were all pretty close. I concentrated on the slight variations in taste.”

This year’s Region IV contest was held at Pinellas County’s Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Educational Center auditorium. Dunedin received an engraved plaque and the utility’s name engraved on Region IV’s “revolving trophy,” which the winner retains for a year. Dunedin also represented Region IV at the state contest on May 3 in Kissimmee.

The association’s Region X covers Charlotte, DeSoto, Hardee, Manatee and Sarasota counties, and Sarasota County Utilities took home the Region X award. Highlands County is in Region VIII, and South Martin Regional Utilities in Martin County took first place in that region. Levy and Marion counties fall under Region XI, and the City of Ocala was the winner.

Cooper City Utilities in Broward County won the state competition on May 3 and will represent Florida at the annual American Water Works Association conference in June, where the national winner will be determined.