William M. Dowd photosSARATOGA SPRINGS, NY -- Water, water, everywhere ... and plenty to drink, think about, consult over, run through valves and purification systems ... and so on.
That was the scene Wednesday at the Saratoga Hilton/City Center which was hosting the annual conference of the New York Section -- American Water Works Association (AWWA), a statewide organization of professionals involved in the drinking water industry -- water/wastewater plant operators, utilities, municipal officials, academics and consulting engineers.
It also was the spot where I joined three other judges from the industry to select the best drinking water in New York State, an honor that went to the Village of Canajoharie. Its water now moves on to the national AWWA competition, scheduled for June in Chicago.
Judges conducted a blind test, sampling a variety of waters from various parts of the state, looking for clarity, taste, smell, aftertaste, and scoring on a 5-point system for each category. While it may not seem at first glance that judging water samples would be much of a chore compared to judging, say, wines and spirits, having done all of those liquids I can attest to the fact that water judging has its difficulties. All the entries were top quality, no discolorations, funky odors or bad aftertaste. On my final scoresheet, I had one entry just two points ahead of a trio tied for second place. I retasted all four, knocking the leader down by one point but still keeping it at the top.
As it turned out, the total points awarded by the four judges wound up ranking the finishers in the same order I had picked them:
• 1st -- Village of Canajoharie, 107 points.
• 2nd through 4th -- Tie among Bethpage (Long Island) Water District, New York City and Greenlawn, 102 points each.
• 5th -- Village of Monroe, 95 points.
• 6th -- Monroe County, 91 points.
The other judges were Joseph Mantua, national president-elect of the AWWA; Manoj Ajmera, a consulting water engineer from the Capital Region, and Dr. Connie Schreppel of Utica, current chair and director of an upstate water distributor. The event was coordinated by Rochelle Cassella of Liverpool, executive director of the New York Section - AWWA.
SCENES FROM A CONVENTION
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