Rick Warner, left, president of the Water Environment Federation and Robert Haller, executive director of the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association, judge the tap water taste test at the BC Water and Wastewater Association’s annual conference at the Victoria Conference Centre. Tim Collins/Victoria News

Greater Victoria water among the Best of the Best in B.C.

Island community Zeballos earns the nod for best ‘tasting’ tap water

Tim Collins/Victoria News

As the judges took their places, and sparkling glasses were placed before them, Carlie Hucul, CEO of the BC Water and Waste Association opened the fourth annual tap-water taste test at the Victoria Conference Centre on Tuesday.

Part of the associations’ annual conference, the event attracted more than 1,200 water professionals from across B.C. and the Yukon and served as a venue to expose a few myths about what flows from our taps.

The challenge pitted nine municipal water systems against one another to determine the “best of the best” where drinking water is concerned and, although the mood was light, the judging was deadly serious.

The three judges used crackers and distilled water to cleanse their palette with the intensity of the most distinguished sommeliers, before sampling water from each of the municipalities. They then scored each water sample on five criteria: aroma, taste, mouth-feel, aftertaste and overall impression.

“It’s a sort of strange competition where the best taste is no taste at all,” joked Robert Haller, executive director of Canadian Water and Wastewater and one of the event’s judges, adding that all of the water samples were of extraordinary quality.

“The truth is we can have full confidence in municipal water supplies. We get up in the middle of the night and drink from the tap without even turning on the light, and well we should,” he said. “That water is subjected to around the clock testing, seven days a week, which is more than you can say about bottled water that doesn’t have the same level of testing, often sits on shelves for extended periods, and is frequently filled from municipal sources in the first place.”

The taste test was an opportunity for event organizers to offer a series of observations on the low cost of municipal water and highlight a few facts to explode some common misconceptions about the municipal water supplies.

For example, said Hucul, a recent survey of BC residents showed that less than one-third of people actually know the origin of their tap water and, on average, people believe the cost of tap water to be three times what they actually pay.

Mathew McCrank, senior manager of infrastructure operations for the Capital Region District, acknowledged it can be a bit frustrating to see people purchase bottled water, but said he knows it’s a personal choice, even if it’s one he wouldn’t recommend.

“We try to educate people about the high quality of our water,” he said. “And of course, we have the added concern at the CRD for the waste involved in relation to all those plastic bottles that, too often, still find their way to the landfill, despite some very good re-cycling initiatives.”

Hucul and Haller both feel the tide may be turning, as younger generations, increasingly concerned about the environment, are opting to fill their personal water bottles from fill stations that are becoming a common addition to water fountains everywhere.

In case you’re wondering, this year’s winner of the best municipal water amongst 10 entries from around B.C. was the Vancouver Island Village of Zeballos.

editor@vicnews.com

Bottled vs. tap water: some fast facts

• Tap water in Victoria is subjected to constant testing and is of extremely high quality.

• No government body is in charge of testing bottled water. It’s classified as a food and subject to the Food and Drugs Act. Processing plants are inspected annually by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and additional testing is voluntary.

• The total annual cost in the CRD of drinking eight glasses of water a day from the tap is 75 cents. The same amount of bottled water is about $1,400.

• Canadians still purchase about 2.4 billion litres of bottled water a year (Euromonitor International, 2014)

• In Canada, three out of 10 households drink bottled water at home (Stats Canada).

• Bottled water does not necessarily come from pristine springs or snowy glaciers. The source is as likely to be the same tap water available in your kitchen. (Canadian Food Inspection Agency).

Just Posted

Cycslists were all smiles during ninth Tour de Victoria

More than 2,100 cyclists participated

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after Const. Beckett’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Police investigating incident in Saanich neighbourhood

Neighbours tell Black Press Media that a body has been found, but police remain tight-lipped.

Colwood man takes on Ride to Conquer Cancer for 11th year in a row

Team Finn has raised almost $3 million for BC Cancer Foundation

Langford lizard sighting excites Victoria museum curator

Curator of vertebrate zoology/knowledge explains the spread of the Wall lizard in the region

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Ferries employees participating in Denman Island cleanup for plastic-shedding ferry

The cleanup comes a few weeks after one organized by residents of the Island

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Toronto activist calling on federal parties to nominate more black candidates

Fewer than 20 black Canadians have been nominated so far, including some Liberal MPs seeking re-election

Most Read