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At annual water tasting contest it's water, water everywhere

February 25, 2008|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Water from around the world was tasted by 10 judges Saturday at the 18th annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting at The Country Inn.

The media panel judged municipal, bottled noncarbonated, sparkling and purified drinking water in the afternoon and evening.

Jill Klein Rone, producer of the event, said there were 118 entries in this year's event, which was slightly more than last year. She said about 200 people attended the event.

The judges were trained by water master Arthur von Wiesenberger, an international water expert from Santa Barbara, Calif.

"You don't want negative tastes that make you gag," von Wiesenberger said. A good water should have a nice sweetness, be fresh and thirst quenching, and have a balanced feel with the correct minerals, he said.

He said the municipal water category included waters from the U.S., Canada and New Zealand, while bottled water entries came from all over the world.

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"Bottled water has been the whipping boy for the recycling environmental movement, but represents one-third of 1 percent of the packaging stream," he said.

Von Wiesenberger said new technology has come up with a lighter weight plastic and also a corn-based plastic.

"The bottled water industry is trying to meet the challenge and becoming more green," he said.

A new bottled water introduced at the event was Tumai (pronounced Too My), produced by the Spero Group Inc. in Martinsburg, W.Va.

Nate Steuer, business development director of Spero Group, said the water is bottled from a spring in Alton, Va.

Tumai means "to hope for" in Swahili, and 15 percent of every purchase goes to programs in Africa, he said.

Bob Downey, president of Spero Group, said the company funds projects including safe water solutions, sanitation, food, education and sustainable practices in orphanages, townships and other impoverished communities.

Lakita Edwards and Krista Kovach of Charles Town, W.Va., came to the water tasting event for the first time. Edwards said she had read about the event and was "very excited" to attend.

Edwards and Kovach said they cast their votes for the People's Choice packaging design award, which is judged by both the public and the judges.

Nayl D'Souza, editor of Water Innovation magazine, traveled from Bath, England, to judge this year's entries.

The Town of Bath is in Berkeley Springs and is the "sister city" of Bath, England. D'Souza said the English town is much larger, and also is known for it water and spas.

The winners received handcrafted fused-glass slump bowls created by Amingo Glass of Hedgesville, W.Va. The Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting logo and the winner's name and category will be engraved on the glass.

Gold-medal winners

The following are the 2008 gold-medal winners at the 18th annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting held Saturday at The Country Inn.

Municipal water (tied) - Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Clearbrook, British Columbia, Canada

Purified drinking water - Great Blue, Federalsburg, Md.

Bottled noncarbonated water - Tumai Natural Spring Water, Martinsburg, W.Va.

Sparkling water - Salvus Mineralwasser Medium, Emsdetten, Germany

People's Choice packaging design - Mist Premium Spring Water, Vanleer, Tenn.

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