Young and Hungry

A Refreshing Surprise: D.C. Tap Water Ranks Among Top 25 [UPDATED]

On Tuesday, a panel of judges from the American Water Works Association assembled to determine which city's tap water tastes best in 2011. Sampling our nation's finest waters were four water-quality experts, and, serving as local celebrity judge, WTOP reporter Neil Augustine.

Among the thousands of samples battling it out, the District's water–which, not long ago, was found to contain dangerous levels of lead–somehow managed to crack the top 25.

"We're very proud," says Sarah Neiderer, water outreach specialist for the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority. "We have a very strong drinking water division we monitor daily and whenever we have an issue [with a consumer] we try and follow up immediately."

Suspiciously absent from this year's top honorees was New York City tap water, so famously delicious that it's been bottled and sold. Last year, the same water wonks gave the Big Apple its highest-ever ranking, as runner-up in a contest of thousands. But this year, they weren't even in the top 25. Why the precipitous drop?

"There’s no one part of the country that’s particularly better or worse. It’s a personal preference. To coin a phrase, ‘Your mother’s cooking is always the best'," says judge Russel Ford, a drinking water technologist.

So whose tap water reigns supreme this time around?

For a really good glass taken straight from the tap, it turns out, head to Greenville, South Carolina.

UPDATE: In an email, Neiderer takes issue with Y&H's point about previously elevated lead levels in D.C. tap water and clarifies the current health of the city water supply thusly:

"Lead levels in the District are below the EPA Lead Action Level and have been since 2005. Furthermore, DC tap water meets all EPA drinking water standards.

Drinking water is essentially lead-free in the District’s distribution system and prior to entering individual water service pipes. Lead can enter water that travels through an individual household lead service pipe, lead solder or household plumbing containing lead. We routinely conduct regulatory and voluntary lead testing to ensure drinking water treatment is effective in minimizing lead release in households with these sources. DC Water also offers free lead test kits to residents.

We provide high-quality, affordable and reliable tap water and encourage customers to contact us directly if they have specific concerns or questions about their tap water."

Photo by Flickr user G. Bremer/Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical 2.0 Generic License

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DC Water outreach specialist

  • RT

    We've always been ranked high. It's just another example of people (most transplants) self-loathing that we hate on our water... and bagels.. and bread. And everything else possible. I've lived in plenty of sucky places with people with a false positive impression of where they live, and here, among transplants, it's the opposite!

  • Austin

    Lived here for years and have always hated the tap water.

  • Biggie
  • Frazier

    It doesn't matter if it tastes like crack infused honey, it is still virtual poison.

  • deanna

    "precipitous drop". wow, does that count as a pun-oxymoron? nice work.

  • Megan Arellano

    @deanna Did not think anyone was going to notice that, but I'm glad you liked it.

  • http://www.manfredmacx.com Jon

    If NYC was #2 last year and out of the top 25 this year, I'd question their methods. A judge says it's "personal preference"? Maybe he likes the taste of lead?

  • George Washitdownwithdctapington.

    As someone who grew up in NY and spent 5 years in DC I can say with absolute conviction that DC tap water SUCKS!
    I don't know whether it is actually filled with led and birth control or not but it for sure tastes like it.
    Why do you think that the best sandwich shops around have to import their rolls?

  • Joe

    Personally, I just dislike any hint of chlorine in my drinking water.

    There isn't anything wrong with most municipalities' drinking water that cannot be dealt with effectively by using a water filter. I use Brita filters on my kitchen tap and a Brita pitcher in my fridge. No chlorine and no bad tastes and no accumulation of plastic or glass bottles to recycle.

  • Andrew

    Is there a link to the results?

  • http://www.waterchef.com mike

    This may sound a bit self serving but our company manufactures and distributes a line of water filters that are made in the USA and have been independently tested and certified by the leading authority in third party testing- NSF International. I invite you to visit our website and take a look for yourself.

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