Filer Township wins state competition for water quality

Left to right are Eric Keller, from Senator Gary Peters’ office; Tim Neuman, executive director of MRWA; Mike Hiller, Filer Township water operator; Melissa Fruge from Senator Debbie Stabenow’s office; and Mike Harris, MRWA. (Courtesy Photo)

FILER TWP. — The Michigan Rural Water Association recently selected Filer Township as a municipality with one of the best tasting water in the state, in the 2019 Water Taste Test contest.

Municipalities from all over the state of Michigan take water samples to the annual MRWA conference, which was held in Traverse City this year, and enter the samples in a “taste-off.”

The contest helps promote water quality in municipalities statewide, as part of the national “Quality on Tap” campaign that focuses on safe drinking water and the expertise of technical professionals who ensure water quality.

Terry Walker, Filer Township supervisor, said the first round of the contest resulted in a tie between Filer Township and the City of Ithaca.

“There are 45 points total that can be awarded and on the first go around, both Ithaca and Filer had a total score of 42 out of 45 points,” he said. “On the face off between the two, we ended up winning it.”

The contest was entered by Mike Hiller, the township’s water operator. Water samples were evaluated by a panel of three judges and scored on clarity, odor and taste.

“Municipalities are invited to bring a water sample, and around 50 did this year,” he explained. “It’s open to areas throughout the state so it brings in a lot of different locations.”

The water taste contest was one of many events taking place during the MRWA Annual Management and Technical Conference, which serves as a training and continuing education opportunity for water department operations throughout the state.
Hiller also entered a water meter assembly contest, and won first place in that competition as well.

“They work against the clock to see who can assemble a water meter the fastest,” said Walker. “Mike has entered that the past three years and took first this year, so he did very well in that.”

Although this was a new award for Filer Township, Hiller has entered the contest several times in recent years.

“I worked for the City of Manistee for 37 years at the water department and we’ve gotten good results in the past,” he said. “It used to go by district, and it was split into three districts, but now it’s the full state. We took first in the state for Manistee as well, just before I retired.”

Filer Township will move on to the national competition held in Washington, D.C. next February, which Hiller will attend.
“There will be 50 states that will compete to be the state with the best water in the nation, so it’ll be exciting to see,” he said. “I’ve also never been to Washington, D.C. and that’ll be a new experience as well.”

First place winners of the state competition attend the national competition with all expenses paid by MRWA, and also receive a news release article in the MRWA quarterly magazine, “The Clarifier” and an award plaque.

“It’s a very neat experience for him and great exposure for the township,” said Walker.

Contact Jane Bond at (231) 398-3111 or email jane.bond@hearst.com. Follow her on Twitter: @MNA_Jane.

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