Fish Sells Water

Michael Boyink/Herald Danny and Kathy Fish revamped the historic building using local wood and stone products.
Boyink/Herald(Left to Right) Danny Fish, Kathy Fish, and Zane Walker stand in the remodeled offices of their recently-opened Ava Springs bottled water company.  

by Michael Boyink, mike@douglascountyheraldcom

 

This was not the initial plan.

The first idea for Ava’s former Carnation plant was a bit more mundane.

Danny Fish, formerly of Fish and Sons Lumber Company in Ava, bought the building intending to rent it to a saw mill customer wanting to store wooden skids indoors.

That customer lost interest.

The second idea was to restart the building as a pallet plant. DoCo Sheltered Workshop had done just that in the building before moving to their current location.

Then over a hand of poker, a friend asked Danny if he knew about the well.

The well?

Herald Archive Photo
In 1941 this was the largest raw milk processing location in the country, receiving 74 tons of milk in one day, and processing a daily payroll equivalent to $55,768 in today’s dollars.

An industrial well. Drilled over 900 feet deep in 1936. Capable of outputting 250 gallons per minute. Local dairy farmers, after emptying the raw milk from their 5 gallon metal jugs, would fill them up with water from the well to take back home.

Danny and Kathy found the well.

“We had the water tested,” said Kathy Fish. “The results came back so good friends said ‘you have to sell this stuff.’”

Michael Boyink/Herald
The Ava Springs water plant on Route 14 just east of Ava. Longterm residents might know the it as either the “The Old DoCo Building” or “The Old Carnation Plant”.

“We just felt like God spoke,” Danny adds. “And He said ‘Here’s what you need to do with that building.’”

And that’s how a Fish decides to sell water.

But the process of getting the water to the point of being able to sell it took four years.

They had to freshen up the well with new piping. They had to completely restore the building, including the offices, lab space, and production area. They had to get sign-off from the Health Department. 

Michael Boyink/Herald
Zane ___ stands by the bottling machine at the Ava Springs bottled water plant in Ava, MO

And they had to navigate FDA requirements for bottling water and selling it to the public. 

First, the water is filtered through a series of three filters. Then it’s purified twice – once with ultraviolet light (UV) and once with ozone. This inactivates any viruses, fungus, or other contaminants remaining in the water.

“It’s considered a ‘natural light mineral water’,” says Kathy. “We’ve added nothing to it, and we’ve taken nothing from it other than what gets caught by the filters.”

Ava Springs then packages the water into washed, sanitized, BPA-free, recyclable bottles available in either 3 gallon or five gallon sizes.

Michael Boyink/Herald
Water bottles waiting for delivery at the Ava Springs bottled water plant in Ava, MO

“We also have plans to put in a 16.9 ounce bottle line,” Kathy says. “Not to sell in stores, but rather for customers to private label as a marketing promotion.”

Initially Ava Springs will focus business locations in roughly an hour radius around Ava. 

Rural customers can pick up water at the Ava plant, or look for Ava Springs to announce additional delivery/drop-off points.

Ava Springs water is $5.99 for 3 gallons, $7.50 for 5 gallons, and cups are $5 per 100. Dispensers are available starting at $10.50 per month.  

There are no delivery charges, bottle deposits, or contracts required.

“We’ve been doing business in the Ava area for over 30 years,” Danny Fish said. “The city and people of Ava have always been good to us. Everyone has been really receptive to the bottled water business, and we’re excited to have the plant here.”

Contact Ava Springs at 417-683-2181 or find them on Facebook at facebook.com/AvaSpringsWater/.