It’s official: The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are blessed with the best drinking water among members of the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET), the group announced at its annual summit.
In a world where water quality is hard to come by, that says a lot.
“All of the water samples appeared to be good drinking water,” said USET Technical Assistance Specialist Scott Williams, who helped coordinate this, the Third Annual Drinking Water Contest. “I believe the bigger message to the tribes is that water quality from our USET Tribes is really improving, and competition in this contest is increasing as tribal water systems improve and operators are gaining more training.”
USET has been working on water quality issues for some time. In February 2012 the organization received approval from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Drinking Water Protection Branch, Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water to train and certify drinking water treatment plant operators throughout the country. (Related: United South and Eastern Tribes Offer Certification for Water Operators)
The Eastern Band of Cherokees competed for the first time this year, winning out over 10 other tribes. Tying for second place were the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), with the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe coming up third.
Aquinnah had been in first place the first year, 2011, St. Regis had been second and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation came in third. In 2012 St. Regis came in third, the Seminole Tribe of Florida was second, and the Mashantucket Pequots were first. (Related: USET’s Summit Provides a Wellspring of Experience for Attendees)
Seven judges tested and inspected the water samples for clarity, odor and taste, USET said in a statement. The goal in implementing the contest three years ago was to boost morale among tribes striving to solve water issues.
The awards were given at USET’s Fourth Annual Tribal Utility Summit, held in Nashville from April 9–11.