Sourced from the Hetch Hetchy watershed in Yosemite National Park, the complex supply system of reservoirs, tunnels, pipelines, and treatment systems stretching from the Sierra to San Francisco is uniquely almost entirely gravity fed. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission even boasts on its site that their water is “among the purest water in the world.”
So the 2.7 million residents who benefit from the supposed crème de la crème of tap water may be surprised to learn that the water coming out of the faucets in SoCal has been named the best tasting tap water in America, on qualities including odor and “mouth feel.”
According to the 31st annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting event in West Virginia, two California water districts provide the best tap water in America, but neither are in the Bay Area.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California finished first and Santa Ana, California, took second. Those competitors finished first in the category in 2008 and 2018, respectively.
Third place went to the Southwest Water Authority of Dickinson, North Dakota.
“The consistency in winners from year to year with different panels of judges validates the choices,” said watermaster Arthur von Wiesenberger at the event last week. “It also speaks to the impressively high caliber of the waters entered.”
The top bottled water award was given to Ulunom in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. Eldorado Natural Spring Water of Eldorado Springs, Colorado, finished second and Jasa Spring Water of Gorham, Ontario, Canada, was third. Rossarden, a town in Tasmania, Australia, was selected as the best municipal water in the world.
Municipalities and bottling companies often use a win in Berkeley Springs for bragging rights and many redesign their labels to include the medal. Over a dozen entrants in the 2021 contest sported a medal decorated label.
Nine judges spent hours tasting and selecting from waters sourced in 19 states, three Canadian provinces and 14 foreign countries. They were instructed by von Wiesenberger to look at, sniff and taste each water under guidelines similar to those in a wine tasting, said Berkeley Springs in a statement.
The waters were rated for each attribute, including appearance (it should be clear or slightly opaque for glacial waters), aroma (there should be none), taste (it should taste clean), mouth feel (it should feel light), aftertaste (it should leave you thirsty for more).