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Specializing in solving municipal water problems, Blue Ribbon Water is a full-service water filter installation and service company for residences and businesses on the North Shore.


Not all tap water is created equal. Even in one region like the North Shore, each town has a different profile of chemicals, minerals and sediment levels in the water that flows from its taps. Newburyport water is soft but loaded with sediment. All towns use chlorine for disinfectant which produces toxic byproducts that are harmful. In many towns the water just tastes and smells awful.

Newburyport entrepreneur Bill Cooper took note of these water issues and wondered: How can residents get cleaner, healthier, better-tasting water? And if there are variations, how can we provide a water filter that meets these different conditions? These simple questions are at the heart of Blue Ribbon Water, the whole-home water filtration company Cooper co-founded in 2019. 

“Every town has a little different nuance,” Cooper says. “We make sure that the filter that goes in someone’s home is the right filter for that city or town.”

Cooper has combined this personalized approach with a meticulous attention to customer service and transparent, responsive communication to build his business. After retiring from a career in corporate America, Cooper wanted to put his experience running complex systems and keeping customers happy to use in a smaller scale, local enterprise. When a friend complained about the substandard service he had received while attempting to buy a home water filtration system, he and Cooper realized they had found an opportunity. 

“I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart,” he says. “Leaving the corporate world was an easy decision.”

Tap water troubles

Blue Ribbon Water launched at a time when concern about the quality of tap water is running high. The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, where municipal pipes contaminated drinking water with lead, stoked public worries about water quality, and more recent headlines about the chemicals known as PFAS have brought those fears closer to home. Indeed, a recent survey by the Environmental Working Group found that more than half of people don’t trust their tap water.

For many, the answer is bottled water. However, while bottled water tastes great and has generally been well-filtered, it comes with its own set of problems. It’s an expensive choice: Americans spent more than $36 billion on bottled water in 2021, according to data from the Beverage Marketing Corporation. And the single-use plastic bottles are an environmental peril, producing carbon dioxide during the manufacturing process and damaging marine life when the plastic waste makes it to the ocean. 

“We’re creating a monstrous plastics pollution problem,” Cooper says. “What’s the alternative? Go back to the tap water you don’t trust? It’s a vicious cycle.”

The way to break the cycle, Cooper contends, is a system that filters all of a home’s water before it ever reaches the tap. Home filtration provides cleaned-up water at a fraction of the cost of bottled water; by some estimates, bottled water costs 2,000 times as much as water from your faucet. Filtering your home’s water also eliminates the hassle of lugging heavy bottles of water home from the supermarket and disposing of them when you’re done. 

Seamless and personalized

Blue Ribbon Water’s goal is to make the process of filtering your own water as effective and seamless as possible. Using water quality data each town is required to file with the state each quarter, the company chooses equipment and filter cartridges that best target the specific issues a given water supply is likely to have. The filters themselves use blocks of carbon fabricated with microscopic pores that are small enough to block contaminants, but large enough to allow water to pass through. 

If hard water – excessive levels of dissolved magnesium and calcium – is a problem, a water softener may be added to the system to prevent corrosion of plumbing, mineral build-up on faucets, and damage to appliances and water heaters.

The data-driven approach does not end with installation. Once a system is up and running, Blue Ribbon Water combines water quality data with information about a household’s water usage patterns to calculate when each filter cartridge should be replaced. The company sends an automatic notification to customers, with a link that allows them to schedule a time for a Blue Ribbon Water tech to come change out the filter. 

“It can be a wet, dirty job, so we do that for them,” Cooper says. 

The company stays on top of fluctuations in water quality to make adjustments to schedules as needed. This summer, when Newburyport water started experiencing more sediment than usual, Blue Ribbon Water contacted customers in town to encourage them to schedule earlier appointments for switching out their filters.

And Cooper intends to keep bringing this same level of detail-oriented attention to his work for as long as the quality of untreated tap water drives people to prefer bottled water.

“We say, look, you can solve this problem,” Cooper says. “You can take control of the quality of your water, and we have specific filters that can solve this.”

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