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Some water pleases, some 'gross' or 'slimy' in tasting contest

February 25, 2002|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Former Olympic marathon runner Lorraine Moller knows firsthand the benefits of water.

The 1992 bronze medalist said drinking a lot of water from her hometown of Putaruru, New Zealand, kept her hydrated so she could run farther. Moller had her hometown water shipped to her when she trained in the United States, and attributes her lengthy career to the drink.

"It's pure and has a smooth taste," she said.

Moller, 46, was so confident of the quality of Putaruru's water she entered it in this year's Berkeley Springs, W.Va., International Water Tasting competition Saturday.

The event features a water tasting contest with municipal, bottled noncarbonated, sparkling and purified water categories. Entries came from throughout the United States and such far away places as Tesanj, Bosnia.

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Thirteen judges tasted the waters and rated them based on appearance, odor, flavor, mouth-feel and aftertaste.

Putaruru's water was one of 41 entered in the municipal category.

Those attending the event didn't have to be judges to taste and render an opinion on the waters submitted in the competition. Spectators got to taste all the entries, too.

Among the onlookers were Carolyne Ford, of Belle Vernon, Pa., and her adult son, Nathan, of Everett, Pa. They placed Putaruru's water high for taste and texture. Titusville, Pa.'s water was also one of their favorites, Nathan Ford said.

"Some don't taste very good; with others, it's hard to tell the difference," he said.

Frederick, Md., sisters Lanie and Rachel Lile had a different opinion about Putaruru's entry.

"It's slimy smooth. It has kind of a metallic taste," Lanie Lile said.

She said that after reading about the water contest, she decided to go to Berkeley Springs and taste for herself.

"It's like a wine tasting only with water," she said.

Lile, 19, gave high marks to the Ville d'Amos water from Canada.

"It's smooth with no taste," she said.

At the bottom of many people's list - because of its chemical smell and aftertaste - was the water entered by the Washington, D.C., Aqueduct.

Nathan Ford grimaced when he drank it. Many other people compared it to pool water.

"It's gross. It smells like chlorine," Lile said.

Some water samples had no smell but had a metallic taste; others were similar with no taste or smell.

Carolyne Ford said she liked the water from Pico Rivera, Calif., and she praised the Friendsville, Md., water entered by George and Rebecca Evendole.

Lile called the Pico Rivera water "thick and slimy," and also disliked the Cuyagha Falls, Ohio, entry.

The City of Fairmont, W.Va..'s water "made my tongue rough," and has an aftertaste, she said.

Some regions sent their water in plastic bottles; others used glass. A few used yellow-tinted glass bottles that Nathan Ford of said reminded him of urine.

Moller said her hometown's water was shipped cold to ensure its quality.

Water tastes best and is most pure when it is stored cold in glass bottles, because warm temperatures promote bacteria growth, Moller said.

"I don't know if it's the best water here, but I think it tastes wonderful. Nothing tastes as good to me," she said.

Picking a winner isn't easy, said Judge Malia Rulon of the Associated Press during a break from the judging.

The 13 judges took a few sips of each entry and then cleansed their palates with crackers.

"Some stand out; with others, it's really close," she said.

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