Tellico Plains spring owners ahead of the curve on bottled water

Tellico Plains spring owners ahead of the curve on bottled water

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Water bubbles up from The Smalling Spring and gushes right into a nearby creek. Water bubbles up from The Smalling Spring and gushes right into a nearby creek.
"We were 15 to 20 years ahead of our time," A.C. Wilson said. "We should have waited until the '80s and built a bottling plant." "We were 15 to 20 years ahead of our time," A.C. Wilson said. "We should have waited until the '80s and built a bottling plant."
A crew member hooks up the water to the truck for transport. A crew member hooks up the water to the truck for transport.
"This is one of the best springs east of the Mississippi," Richard Flanigan, the owner of Smoky Mountain Water, said. "This is one of the best springs east of the Mississippi," Richard Flanigan, the owner of Smoky Mountain Water, said.

By KRISTIN FARLEY
6 News Anchor/Reporter

TELLICO PLAINS (WATE) - Nowadays, bottled water is found in just about every vending machine and convenience store. But do you really know where that water comes from?

In Tellico Plains, you can find some real, pure, local water that you can enjoy every day.

Water bubbles up from The Smalling Spring and it gushes right into a nearby creek. The Wilson family has owned the property with the spring since the 1960s.

They realized they needed to find away to capture this natural water supply, so decades ago they started bottling it. But bottled water was not a hot commodity back then.

"We were 15 to 20 years ahead of our time," A.C. Wilson said. "We should have waited until the '80s and built a bottling plant."

Today it is a much different story, so the Wilson family reconstructed the old springhouse and installed a stainless steel shunt to seal off some of the water supply.

In the basement of the springhouse is the system that provides all of the water to the homes on the property and carries water to an outside source to be loaded onto tankers.

Starr Mountain Spring Water was certified as a raw water source in 2006. That same year Richard Flanigan, the owner of Smoky Mountain Water, started getting his commercial and residential water from the Tellico Plains company.

"This is one of the best springs east of the Mississippi," Flanigan said.

The day we stopped by, Smoky Mountain Water was filling up a 6,500 gallon tanker, but before each and every load they make sure this chemical free water is as safe as possible.

"It is very important we have water analysis," Flanigan told us, adding that they personally test each and every load.

In the end, you could say it all comes down to taste, something A.C. Wilson will stand behind.

"The city waters, most have chlorine, fluorides, all those additives and you can taste those," he told us. "This spring has no additives. It has natural minerals, but they are good tasting minerals."

Right now, Smoky Mountain Water is Starr Mountain's only commercial account, but they have the capacity to fill more orders. They are also considering starting their own bottling plant again.

Both Starr Mountain and Smoky Mountain say the tests on the water from the Smalling Spring have come back clean and clear, every time.

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