Southern California Water Ties for Tastiest

The drinking water for millions of Southern Californians has tied for first place in the International Water Tasting Event, which was held recently in Berkeley Springs, W. Va.

The gold-medal water originated in Northern California's Sierra Nevada, was imported through the State Water Project, treated at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California's Jensen plant with state-of-the-art ozone gas and, as it leaves the plant, receives a bit of chlorine as a preservative.

The California entry tied with water from Clearbrook, British Columbia.

Jeffrey Kightlinger, Metropolitan's general manager, said, "I think our first-, second- and third-place medals in this competition over the past decade are a tribute to the commitment of our board and employees to producing the safest and best-tasting water that we can."

A water sample from the Joseph Jensen Water Treatment Plant in the Granada Hills community of northwest Los Angeles won in a "blind" taste-testing by a panel of 10 journalists and food critics for the municipal water category. Metropolitan's employees trained in the quality-control methods of the food and beverage industry selected the entry. The Flavor Analysis Panel meets several times weekly at the district's Water Quality Laboratory at La Verne to evaluate samples from throughout the district's regional treatment and distribution system to maintain quality.

Water from the Jensen plant is piped to customer water agencies in Los Angeles, Ventura, and Orange counties and is usually blended with local well water before reaching homes and businesses. In other areas, it may also be blended with Colorado River water or water from the Los Angeles Aqueduct from the Owens Valley.

The district's entries in the international competition have won first place in 1998; second-place in 2000 and 2003; and third place in 2005. Clearbrook's entry was the silver-medal winner in 2007, according to Jill Klein Rone, producer of the 18th annual event.

This year's competition included 21 municipal entries from 10 states and the District of Columbia, as well as eight Canadian cities and Putaruru, New Zealand. This year's second-place silver medal is shared by Desert Hot Springs, Calif., and the Village of Montrose, British Columbia.

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