Kelowna’s tap water wins top marks

City water bests 12 other entrants at B.C. Water and Waste Association meeting in Whistler.

Kelowna's tap water has won top marks from the B.C. Water and Waste Association.

After being compared to nearly a dozen other entrants in the inaugural B.C. Water and Waste Association’s Best of the Best tap water taste test challenge, the City of Kelowna’s water has come out on top.

The city’s water was awarded top marks earlier this week at the BCWWA annual conference in Whistler.

“British Columbia has some of the highest quality water of anywhere in the world, so the City of Kelowna was up against some formidable challengers,” said Tanja McQueen, CEO of the 4,700-member BCWWA.

“We congratulate Kelowna on this honour as they should be very proud of the work they do every day to deliver clean, great tasting water to their residents.”

Tap water entered in the challenge was sampled by four water taste professionals or “aqualiers”, who were not told which communities had entered the competition.

The judges included:

• Robert Haller, Executive director of the Canadian Water and Waste Association

• Chef Robert LeCrom, eExecutive chef at Fairmont Chateau in Whistler

• Sandra Ralston, president of the Water Environment Federation

• Rosemary Smud, vice-president of the American Water Works Association

The judges rated each sample on a scale of one to five on criteria that included appearance, aroma, taste, mouth feel, aftertaste, and overall impression.

“It’s gratifying when all our investments in innovative water treatment technology through the years results in recognition for our clear, great tasting drinking water,” said Kelowna Utility Services Manager Kevin Van Vliet.

“We need to also give credit to the waste water treatment process we have that returns clean effluent to our drinking water source, Okanagan Lake,”

The contest was held as part of the BCWWA’s Drinking Water Week celebrations, to raise awareness about the value of water.

Following a massive cryptosporidium outbreak in the city’s water in 1996, in which an estimated 10,000 became ill, the decision was made to start treating city water with an ultraviolet disinfection method. It also uses chlorine. The city has also upgraded its waste water treatment facility since then, spending $50 million on that project.

According to city, most Canadians take for granted that when they turn on their taps, fresh water will appear, and when they flush their toilets it will disappear, without giving much thought to the network of infrastructure and the people that make this happen.

A 2014 Canadian water attitudes survey indicates less than one-third of Canadians know where their drinking water comes from, and fewer than one in five are aware of the condition of their water infrastructure.

The B.C. Water and Waste Association says it is working to raise awareness about the value of water to ensure that there is public support for the investment that will be needed over the next decade to ensure that future generations will also enjoy clean, safe water.