The smallest city in B.C. took top honours for their water last week. Greenwood placed as the bronze winner in municipal water at the 20th annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting competition. Another regional area, Beaver Falls, took home the silver, while the gold went to Hamilton, OH.
Held in the historic spa town in West Virginia, the Berkeley Springs International is the largest and longest running water tasting competition in the world. “We consider it the Olympics of Water,” says Jill Klein Rone, longtime producer of the event.
Tasting includes a number of categories including: municipal waters, purified drinking water, and bottled waters - both still and sparkling. Winners in all categories are announced at a public awards reception.
Greenwood City Councillor Christopher Stevenson paired up with the Superintendent of Public Works, Randy Smith, to make sure Greenwood’s entry got to the competition.
“It came out of last year when Montrose got second,” said Stevenson. “I figured if Montrose can get second maybe we should give it a shot.”
The entry was not without its challenges for Smith and Stevenson. The first bottle they sent broke in transit and all that the judges received was a soggy box, laughed Stevenson.
“Now we were running out of time because it was only four days until we had to have it in,” said Stevenson. “So I picked up 12 different containers and Smith filled them again. We wrapped the bottles with about four pounds of tape to make sure the lid stayed on and drove them back to Curlew and away it went.”
Entries came from all over the United States and this year from as far away as Japan, New Zealand and Brazil. For the first time, there is a bottled water from China . "The impact of winning this event is extraordinary for a bottler," said Jeanne Mozier, an event founder. After winning the 2008 gold medal for best tasting bottled non-carbonated water, Martinsburg, WV’s Tumai water company saw sales grow exponentially overnight.
A distinguished panel of media judges determines the official winners, but there is a role for the public. All day Saturday, they taste water along with the judges. Most importantly, the public votes for the People's Choice award for best packaging. "How the product looks has become ever more important as the bottled water industry continues to grow," said Mozier. "There are now more than 600 brands of bottled water."
“Everybody here says that the water is excellent, and I agree,” said Stevenson. Now Greenwood has an international award to confirm that. Stevenson said that the city will use the award as a promotional opportunity. “If you go online and type Berkeley Springs Water its all over the place. The promotion value is incredible because we couldn’t buy that kind of press!”