County dominating water quality event


Last year, DVWD, this year, CRR Water Co.

by: ILLUSTRATION BY TOM CULBERTSON - Crooked River Ranch Water Co.'s water was named Best Overall for Oregon this year, following in the footsteps of Deschutes Valley Water District, which won in 2013.There's something about the water in Jefferson County. For the second year in a row, a water supplier in the county has won the award for Best Overall Water in Oregon.

At the March conference for the Oregon Association of Water Utilities, held at Sunriver Resort, water submitted by Crooked River Ranch Water Co. was named the Best Groundwater and Best Overall Water in Oregon for the 2014 year.

"It's pretty cool to be recognized as the best water in the state," said Frank Day, general manager of the company, who entered the water for the first time this year. "The people out here love their water and they take it pretty personally."

Last year, Deschutes Valley Water District's water, which is the water piped to homes in the Madras, Culver and Metolius areas, was judged the best groundwater and best overall for the state.

For Ed Pugh, general manager of DVWD, it's no surprise that Crooked River Ranch's water won. "It is fair to say DVWD and CRR get their water from the same aquifer," he said, noting that aquifers are composed of layers of moving water.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Frank Day samples CRR Water Co.'s winning water.The Ranch's water comes from wells that tap into the upper layers of the aquifer, while DVWD's sources, at the bottom of an 850-foot-deep canyon, include Opal Springs and three wells.

Day, who has managed the Crooked River Ranch Water Co. for the past three years, said that the Ranch's water, considered groundwater, is obtained from a 388-foot well at a lower level of the Ranch, drilled in the mid-1970s, and a 508-foot well that was drilled in 1997.

"It comes straight out of the ground and goes straight to the customer," said Day, noting that there is no filtration or treatment.

There are 1,500 members served by the member-owned nonprofit, which has five employees, including Day, an office manager, a customer service representative and two field technicians.

"Our office manager, Cynthia Dillman, was recognized as the Oregon Association of Water Utilities Office Manager of the Year," he said.

Crooked River Ranch Water Co.'s water will represent Oregon in the National Best Water Contest at the annual National Rural Water Association’s Rural Water Rally in Washington D.C. at the end of this year.

The water was selected in blind taste tests by a panel of four judges, who sample water from around Oregon, judging the samples on clarity, bouquet, and taste.

Water from the Deschutes basin aquifer has been well-represented in the contest over the years. Deschutes Valley Water District won in 1996, 2001, 2004, and 2013, according to Pugh.

"The city of Bend has also won the 'Best Tasting Water' contest many times over the years," he said.

Besides CRR Water Co., DVWD, and Bend, the city of Redmond and Avion Water Co., based in Bend, also get most of their drinking water from wells fed by the Deschutes basin aquifer, Pugh pointed out. "Our region is extremely fortunate to have plentiful and pure drinking water in the high desert."

The win was especially sweet for Crooked River Ranch Water Co., which had a tumultuous decade involving lawsuits, until a new board was installed in November 2010, and Day was hired in 2011.

"We've come so far from where we were four years ago to where we are now," said Day.

Financially, he said, the water company is stable and "able to make needed repairs and progress forward with the less expensive improvements that needed to be done to the system."

"We're building strong relationships with the homeowners association, the fire department, the road department and other organizations (at Crooked River Ranch)," said Day.

The water company has been a member of the nonprofit Oregon Association of Water Utilities since November 1991.

OAWU has over 700 members and serves Oregon’s water and wastewater utilities in hands-on training and technical services. The association also serves as a legislative liaison and actively supports legislation to improve the utilities that serve Oregon’s residents.

For more information about OAWU, visit its website at or contact its office at 503-837-1212.

The Crooked River Ranch Water Co. can be reached at 541-923-1041.