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Get to Know the Water Treatment Experts at Culligan of Danbury

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Shawn McDowell, general manager for Culligan of New England in Danbury, Connecticut, started with Culligan in 2000 as a delivery manager. And over the course of two decades, he has watched consumers’ interest in what’s in their water grow, with the general public now more aware than ever of water quality and the wide variety of chemicals and minerals that may be present in their drinking water.

Still, McDowell suggests, misconceptions about drinking-water quality remain. For example: Just because water has been certified as potable doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always 100% “clean.” We spoke with Shawn recently about leading water-quality issues in the region his Culligan of New England store serves—Fairfield, New Haven and Litchfield counties in Connecticut and Westchester County in New York—and how his team is helping customers address their top water concerns.

What are the top water concerns in and around Danbury?

Our primary issue we deal with here is hardness—the water can be very hard. In grains per gallon [a measure of water hardness], it can range anywhere from 4 grains to as high as 60 grains. (*Note: The not-for-profit Water Quality Association defines hard water as containing 7.0–10.5 grains of dissolved calcium and magnesium per gallon; “very hard water” contains more than 10.5 grains per gallon.)

It’s strange how geography in what the earth brings you produces changes in water. There’s a location that’s 45 minutes to the west of us that’s heavily fortified in iron; we do deal with some iron and some low pH.

Most residents in the area are on municipal water, with a smaller share on private wells. Can you talk about the difference between those as it relates to water quality?

A lot of people believe that just because you’re on municipal water, that means that your water’s safe. There are many times where a town or a city may order a boil alert, and the reality is, how much water was used between the problem (being identified) and when you notified the public?

People [here] do get concerned about chlorine. An acquaintance of mine, when she comes to visit, I can smell the chlorine on her. Municipalities overload the systems with chlorine because you put chlorine in where the water starts to go out; you have to have enough to last to where it gets to the end.

On top of that, there are a lot of things such as PFOAs that aren’t being removed from municipalities, and by buying a drinking-water unit, you protect your family from that.

Most private wells are OK as they were tested initially in order to receive a certificate of occupancy, but they should still be tested annually for bacteria. You may still encounter irritants in the well such as iron—you don’t need to feel like you’re drinking Tang when you’re drinking water

What gives you pride in your team?

The average tenure for this location would probably be 10 to 12 years. We do have some long-term employees who have made a career here. I just think everybody’s dedicated to helping our customers to make our business a reputable business. We have a lot of local water competitors around us, but we are the biggest in the area, and I think there’s some pride (in that) for my guys. We have a great team here; they care not only about their job but about our customers.

What kind of feedback do you get from customers about their Culligan water?

We’re very strong in our Google reviews; our customers rave about our service technicians for their knowledge [and] in the customer service-centric aspect in regard to asking them if there’s anything else they can help with or solving their problems. We have over 160 Google reviews, and we carry about 4.8 stars. To me that speaks a lot.

You’ve been with Culligan for nearly 20 years. What do you still love about your job?

I love my job because in the 20 years I’ve been here, it’s never the same day twice. From an issue that can happen operationally in the back end to a new promotional item or a customer issue. It’s just always different every single day. There’s no monotony to it.


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