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Best in taste: Public Works wins drinking water awards

Joshua Niemann, from the Tribe’s Brighton Water Treatment Plant, receives the plaque that the plant won for Region VIII’s best tasting drinking water during a contest in March in Port St. Lucie. (American Water Works Association Florida Section photo)

They are separated by more than 100 miles and draw their water from different sources, but the Seminole Tribe’s water treatment plants on the Brighton and Hollywood reservations shared one common attribute in March: champions.

Both plants captured regional awards for best tasting drinking water, adding to an ever-growing list of accolades for the Tribe’s Public Works Department.

Andrew Mason, from the Tribe’s Hollywood Water Treatment Plant, holds the plant’s first place trophy during a ceremony in March in Deerfield Beach. The Hollywood plant won for best tasting drinking water in Region VI. (American Water Works Association Florida Section photo)

“All our operators are state certified,” said John Holdman, environmental compliance and safety manager for the Tribe. “They do a good job with it. They take a lot of pride in it. Florida has some of the most stringent testing in the nation as far as operators.”


For the second year in a row, the Brighton plant impressed a panel of judges to win the American Water Works Association Florida section’s Region VIII Best Tasting Drinking Water Contest on March 7 at Port St. Lucie Community Center. This year Brighton had to share the spotlight because later in the month Hollywood won the section’s Region VI contest at the Doubletree by Hilton in Deerfield Beach.

Both plants beat a lengthy list of plants from municipalities and counties. Brighton won the top honor against 10 other competitors, including Martin County, which finished second. Hollywood claimed its title ahead of several plants in Broward and Palm Beach counties, including the City of Plantation and City of West Palm Beach, which tied for runner-up.

The Brighton and Hollywood plants advanced to the state finals in Orlando on April 26 (after deadline for this issue of The Tribune). Winners from the state competition will compete in nationals.

The pair of victories come on the heels of other recent honors earned by Public Works, including in the areas of distribution, education, safety and service.

In addition to recognitions from Florida’s AWWA section, which includes130 utility members that collectively supply potable water to more than 80 percent of the state’s population, STOF’s Public Works has also received honors from the Florida Water and Pollution Control Operators Association and the Florida Water Environmental Association in the past year.

“We’re a small utility. We’re a Class C because we don’t have as many customers. It’s rare for smaller utilities around the state to win as much as we win,” Holdman said.

Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at