Raise a glass to Everett: City’s water wins taste contest

Everett has a new claim to fame.

It’s the water.

Not the kind that comes out of the sky, but the kind that comes out of the tap.

The city’s water tastes better than that of seven other water providers from Snohomish, Whatcom, Skagit, Island, San Juan, Jefferson and Clallam counties, according to those who sipped the H2O in a contest on Thursday.

The Northwest Washington subsection of the American Water Works Association held its third annual water taste competition in Mount Vernon. Four judges — including a Skagit County health district official and one from the Shoreline Water District — judged the water on taste, scent and aftertaste, Everett city spokeswoman Kate Reardon said.

“We have said for years we have some of the best-tasting water in the nation,” Reardon said.

“This is a much sought-after award for drinking water providers,” Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson said in a written statement.

Everett not only won the contest, it’s now eligible to move on to a regional competition at the Pacific Northwest Section Annual Conference in Vancouver, Wash., on May 2.

This winner will represent the Pacific Northwest at the American Water Works Association Annual Conference and Exposition in Atlanta, Ga., in June.

This was the third year for the Northwest Washington contest. Skagit County Public Utility District won last year.

Everett supplies water to about 500,000 people, covering about 80 percent of Snohomish County, either directly or through separate water districts. That is most of the county’s developed areas.

Everett credited its winning water to its source. The water comes from the Sultan River, located approximately 30 miles east of Everett. In the Sultan Basin watershed, rain and snow melt flow down from the Cascade Mountains into creeks and streams. These drain into Spada Lake Reservoir, which on average holds 50 billion gallons of water, according to the city.

The Sultan Basin is one of the wettest watersheds on the west side of the Cascade Mountains, according to Reardon. The average rainfall is 165 inches a year — even more than that of the Hoh Rain Forest on the Olympic Peninsula, which averages 153 inches a year, she said.

The city protects sensitive areas of the Sultan Basin by restricting access and activities that might contaminate the reservoirs.

“Our drinking water experts are the top in the field,” said Tom Thetford, Everett public works director. “We continue to invest in upgrades to our water filtration plant, which allows us to provide high-quality drinking water.”

Two people on the street in Everett on Friday agreed with the judges’ assessment, while one wasn’t so sure.

“The water that comes out of my tap tastes not too good, a metallic taste,” said Karen Boyko, 56, of south Everett. Her water comes from the Silver Lake Water District, which in turn gets its water from Everett. Boyko said, though, that the taste problem could be caused by her pipes.

Others gave the water good reviews.

“I consider it to be pretty good water,” said Dexter Mason, 66, of Everett.

Barb Lillard, 51, an Everett native, believes the award is well-deserved.

“I’m proud, I’m very proud,” she said. “It’s something else to be known for.”

Reporter Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439 or sheets@heraldnet.com.

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