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Local rural water district claims "Best tasting" title

HASTINGS, Okla._A water district from Southwest Oklahoma has claimed the title of “Best tasting rural water” in Oklahoma.

Jefferson County Rural Water District 1 won first place in the taste test at the Oklahoma Rural Water Association Conference last week. They beat out eight other districts, which all brought a quart of water for the competition in Tulsa.

The district uses a mix of approximately 95 percent well water and 5 percent of the water coming from Waurika Lake. After conducting a taste test at the senior center in Hastings, most of the residents couldn't tell the difference between tap water and bottles water.

"I already know which is which. This is our water and that one is the bottled water," said June Griffin.

Griffin is one of 2,500 customers the district pumps water to. She says she had no idea their water was the best rural water in the state. Rural Water District 1 started using well water about two years ago, and citizens say they can tell the difference.

The district has a small team of six workers. Water District manager Kenny Lovett says he was surprised they won first place this year.

"I was really happy for it. I didn't expect it, but we were going to try it anyway and see if we won. It actually came down to a tie between first and then we won the taste-off," said Lovett.

Lovett has been with the water district for 10 years. They recently dug a third well in Grady County, which has increased their well water usage.

"We just actually completed a $5 million project with those three wells and 16 miles of 12-inch waterline," said Lovett.

The district started buying water rights and looking into the process of well water in 2009. To treat well water, all you have to do is chlorinate it and send it down the pipeline. When asked if there was something special that makes their water taste better than others, Lovett says he'll leave it to the taste testers to decide.

"I wouldn't know. I really wouldn't know. We just lucked out that's all I can say," said Lovett.

Last year was the first year the district competed. They finished in 3rd place. The district pumps between 600,000 and 700,000 gallons a day to its customers.

They will now advance to a national taste test next February in Washington, D.C. It's part of the Rural Water Rally put on by the National Rural Water Association.

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