Clearbrook's a clear winner: B.C. community has world's tastiest tap water, judges say
For the seventh time since 2008, the community of Clearbrook in Abbotsford, B.C., has been awarded an international gold medal for the quality of its tap water.
Clearbrook claimed top spot in the municipal water category at the 33rd annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting, held on Saturday in Berkeley Springs, W.Va. The event bills itself as the "Academy Awards of water."
"We're very proud," said Jason Hildebrandt, corporate administrator for Clearbrook Waterworks District, which provides service to about 10,000 people in the 2.1-square-kilometre area in western Abbotsford, about 70 kilometres east of Vancouver.
"For us, it's an affirmation of the work that we're doing to maintain this water quality throughout the system."
Maintaining the water quality through the system, which operates independently from the Abbotsford Mission Regional Water System, is a key part of the gold-medal formula because the source itself is so pure, Hildebrandt says.
Clearbrook's water, he says, originates from the Abbotsford-Sumas aquifer about 40 metres below the surface. At the point where Clearbrook draws its water from the aquifer, there's about a 10-metre layer of clay sitting above. That layer, Hildebrandt says, keeps contaminants from getting through.
"So, the water that we're pulling out of the ground is chemically perfect," he said. "It's perfect in every way, so our biggest challenge is making sure it tastes the same at the end user. And it's easier for us to do that because we don't put chlorine in the water. We don't have to."
Hildebrandt says Clearbrook Waterworks District has a "really rigorous maintenance and sampling program" worked out with Fraser Health and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control that allows it to keep the water unchlorinated.
'It doesn't leave a taste'
So how does water out of a Clearbrook tap taste? According to Hildebrandt, it doesn't.
"It doesn't leave a taste, and it doesn't leave a feel in your mouth," he said. "And that's a big deal for some people, and we notice that when we get the judging cards back.
"They always rank us top marks for mouthfeel. In other words, they're not tasting that oiliness that you might feel sometimes after a bottled water or something like that."
Hildebrandt says former Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman used to call water from Clearbrook "the most tasteless water on the planet."
Ontario municipality claims silver
At the Berkeley Springs tasting, the silver medal in the municipal water category went to another Canadian entrant — North Muskoka, Ont. — while St. Paris, Ohio, claimed bronze.
Three former gold-medallists — Clearbrook, Emporia, Kan., and Eldorado Springs, Colo. — finished in the top five.
"The consistency in winners from year to year with different panels of judges validates the choices," water expert Arthur von Wiesenberger said on the Berkeley Springs website.
Other categories include best non-carbonated water, best sparkling water, best purified drinking water and people's choice.
No other Canadian location won gold.
However, Jano from Village-Blanchard, N.B., took bronze in the best non-carbonated category, and Clearly Canadian from Marchand, Man., was awarded bronze in the people's choice.