Anne Jordan was a contributing editor to GOVERNING.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This weekend, I went up to our cabin just outside Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, in part to make sure the water pipes hadn't burst during a recent cold snap. When I arrived, I crossed my fingers and flipped the breaker switch to start pumping water from our well. The water began to flow through the tap as usual, which is to say with a color (and smell) I find less than refreshing: The water clearly has a high iron (and sulfur) content.
It might come as a surprise then to learn that last weekend Berkeley Springs was the place to go for the best-tasting H20 in the world. My personal experience notwithstanding, the town's claim to fame for more than 200 years has been its water -- specifically the warm springs that flow at a constant at 74.3 degrees. In fact, George Washington was a regular visitor to this spa town, which originally was called the Town of Bath, taken from its English counterpart.
To further capitalize on its aqua culture, 17 years ago the town began hosting the "International Water Tasting" competition -- whereby a panel of journalists (I don't recall being contacted) renders judgment on the best municipal tap water, purified drinking water, bottled water, sparkling water and packaging. This year, there were more than 100 entries from 12 countries.
The winner of the Best Municipal Tap Water category was Montpelier, Ohio, which grabbed the same award in 2006 and 2003. Three cities in British Columbia placed second, third and fourth. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, came in fifth -- or second-best in the United States.
In the purified water category (which is processed and bottled municipal tap water), this year's champion was Coral Water from Rost Labs, Florida; Crystal Mountain Natural Spring Water from Huntsville, Alabama, placed second; third was Daytona Beach, Florida; fourth was Chill from Mechanicsville, Virginia, and Stone Clear Premium from Vanleer, Tennessee, came in fifth.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.