ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Thankfully, our tap water doesn’t have “a slight chemical taste,” or a “hint of sweat socks,” or, heaven forbid, a “mysterious aroma, Vietnam, summer 1972.”
Those were some of the comments a panel of judges on Monday used to describe water from six municipal water systems in New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming – but not Albuquerque’s water.
In fact, the judges rated Albuquerque’s water the best in the region based on clarity, odor, mouth feel and, of course, taste.
The blind taste test was held at the Albuquerque Convention Center and was part of the events held in conjunction with the joint annual conference of the Rocky Mountain Section of the American Water Works Association and the Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association.
Against a background of more than 100 booths set up by companies selling every manner of water and waste-water treatment equipment, a panel of five judges awarded the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority a First Place plaque and bragging rights. Albuquerque is now eligible to represent the Rocky Mountain Section at the Best of the Best Taste Test in Anaheim, Calif., next year at the AWWA Annual Conference and Exposition.
“I had no expectations going in,” said water authority spokesman David Morris. “It’s a credit to all the men and women who bring safe, reliable and good-tasting drinking water to the residents of the city and county.”
The particular sample used for the competition, he revealed, came from a first-floor drinking fountain at City Hall.
Asked what he would do with the bragging rights just bestowed, Morris said, “I’ll brag.” He promptly issued a press release.
The Second Place runner-up was a sample from East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District in the Denver area, while third place went to the Aurora City Water Utility, also in Colorado.
The judging panel consisted of local celebrities and professionals in the field of water. They included recently retired KRQE-TV anchor Dick Knipfing; KOB-TV reporter Stuart Dyson; KOAT meteorologist Eric Green; AWWA vice president Brenda Lennox; and Drinking Water Bureau supervisor Nora Romero of the New Mexico Environment Department.
Morris did concede that four of the five judges live or work in the Albuquerque metro area. “I had been told by another person in the water industry that, even though it’s a blind test, local judges might prefer local water just because it’s what they’re used to. Regardless of why they chose us, it’s all water under the bridge at this point and we accept the results.”
Lennox, the one non-local judge, said she voted Albuquerque’s water the best among those sampled and said it compares favorably with the tap water she regularly drinks in Oregon, where she works for the Tualatin Valley Water District.
“I thought it was very refreshing and had no aftertaste,” she said of our local product.
According to Romero, Albuquerque’s drinking water is a combination of water from the underground aquifer and surface water from the Rio Grande. The water utility authority, she said, “has been able to mix it to meet state standards and federal requirements, while also providing good-tasting water.”