Southern Calif. ties for bronze medal at international water tasting contest

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California's prize-winning water was drawn at its Henry J. Mills Treatment Plant at Riverside, the first of MWD's five treatment plants retrofitted with ozone disinfection that produces better-tasting water. The best tasting water in the world award went to the town of Gibsons, BC, Canada. Daytona Beach, Fla., picked up honors for best in the United States. Putaruru, New Zealand, took the silver. Tying for bronze with MWD was Rice Lake, Wis...

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 27, 2005 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The drinking water that's coming soon to all Southern Californians received a third-place bronze medal Saturday at the 15th Annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting competition, held in Berkeley Springs, W.V.

Over 115 entries from around the world were judged in four water categories: municipal, purified, bottled noncarbonated and sparkling. The public and judges also voted for the People's Choice award for the best packaging design.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California's prize-winning water was drawn at its Henry J. Mills Treatment Plant at Riverside, the first of MWD's five treatment plants that has been retrofitted with an ozonation method of water disinfection that produces better-tasting water.

The award for the best tasting municipal water in the world went to the town of Gibsons, BC, Canada. Daytona Beach, Fla., picked up honors for the best in the United States. Putaruru, New Zealand, took the silver. Tying for bronze with MWD was Rice Lake, Wis. For the full list of contest winners, see: www.berkeleysprings.com/water/awards.htm.

Best in the U.S.
Daytona Beach, Fla., which won the first place award as the country's best Tasting Municipal Tap Water at the Berkeley Springs competition, has disinfected city water at its Brennan Water Treatment Plant since 2001 using Severn Trent Services' ClorTecTM on-site sodium hypochlorite generation system.

The 20 million-gallon-per-day plant has used this system as an alternative to chlorine disinfection because it's effective and its use eliminates the need to transport and store large quantities of chlorine onsite. Daytona Beach chose the ClorTec system because of its simplicity, safety of operation and reliability. In addition, the switch to on-site hypochlorite generation enabled the plant to discontinue an EPA-mandated Risk Management Plan that was previously required with the use of a chlorine gas feed system.

Severn Trent Services (www.severntrentservices.com), based in Fort Washington, Pa., is a leading supplier of water and wastewater treatment solutions. Its broad range of products and services is concentrated around disinfection, instrumentation and filtration technologies, pipeline analysis, rehabilitation and repair services, contract operating services and residential metering products and services. The company's international management services business provides support in all aspects of water and wastewater utility development and transformation. Publicly traded, it's a member of the Severn Trent Plc group of companies.

Best in the West
"We're delighted to be recognized again for the outstanding quality of our water," said Metropolitan board Chairman Wes Bannister, "and also to have our first ozone treatment process receive this kind of validation."

Not that the water that 18 million Southland residents currently receive from Metropolitan's other plants is less-delectable. Samples taken at other locations in recent years have won first- and second-place medals at the annual tasting competition held in the historic spa town of Berkeley Springs, W. Va.

However, the characteristics of other local and imported waters, and the effects of local and household water pipes, may affect the taste and scent of homeowners' tapwater.

Metropolitan's water imported from Northern California and the Colorado River comprises about half the drinking water used in a 5,200-square-mile area covering portions of Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. Metropolitan's 26 member public water agencies use the imported water to supplement, or in place of, local water supplies -- mostly ground (well) water.

The Ozone Process
"The ozone disinfection process that we are using at the Mills plant will be on-line at our Jensen plant in Granada Hills this summer, and at our plants in La Verne, Yorba Linda and Murietta by December 2009," said Metropolitan interim CEO Gilbert Ivey.

"Metropolitan's board has made a $750 million commitment to ozone retrofits at all of our plants in order to maintain the high quality of our drinking water," he said.

A safe, colorless gas with a pleasant, fresh scent, ozone is a form of oxygen. It is bubbled through drinking water to destroy potentially harmful organisms and also to reduce unpleasant tastes and odors. Ozone, which has been used for disinfecting drinking water since the 1800s, is also noteworthy because it causes fewer potentially harmful byproducts than chlorine.

The water-tasting competition at Berkeley Springs is held annually on the weekend closest to the birthday of George Washington, who was one of Berkeley Springs' early real estate speculators and surveyors. The hot sulphur springs that Washington and his friends hoped would become a tourist attraction are still flowing.

The Contest
Twenty-nine cities from the United States and several other countries sent entries to the contest, where water samples are judged in the same manner as wine tasting. Metropolitan's water competed against entries from Maryland, Ohio, Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, Wisconsin and New York and other states, as well as entries from Canada and New Zealand.

Carbonated and sparkling bottled waters, and water bottle packaging and design also have their own categories in the event.

In the Municipal Water category, Metropolitan took third place, tying with Rice Lake, Wis. Water from Town of Gibsons, BC, Canada, was judged best in the world; Daytona Beach, Fla., won best in the United States, and Putaruru, New Zealand, placed second.

Metropolitan's entry was selected by its Flavor Profile Panel, a group of employees at MWD's Water Quality Laboratory who are trained in wine-and-beverage-tasting methods. The FPP meets several times weekly -- sometimes daily -- to test water samples from throughout Metropolitan's aqueduct, treatment plants and pipelines.

Their objective is water lacking in noticeable tastes or scents -- the same characteristics that impressed the judges at Berkeley Springs.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (www.mwdh2o.com) is a cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving 18 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other water-management programs.

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In related news announced at the water tasting competition: "IBWA, U.S. Forest Service team for environmental, watershed education"

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