Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
Officials lapping up latest honor
By Shelley Grieshop
ST. HENRY - The village again is making a splash by earning the title of best tasting tap water in the U.S.
Still reeling from past honors for one of the best places in the state and nation to raise kids, the small town netted its newest honor on Saturday at the 22nd annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting in West Virginia.
"It was a shock to me," village administrator Ron Gelhaus said.
The community won the 2012 Best Municipal Water in the USA award following a "sniff and taste" review by a panel of 11 media judges. Gelhaus said the town's tap water samples were sent to judges by Michael Kidston of Artesian of Pioneer, an area water quality expert.
"Those folks and the village of St. Henry have had a working relationship for 20 years," Gelhaus said.
Artesian of Pioneer is a private contractor that works with the town - and other municipalities in the area - to provide residents with high-quality tap water, he said.
The only other Ohio community to collect one of the Berkeley Springs awards was Hamilton for Best Purified Drinking water. Taking home the Best Municipal Water in the World was Greenwood, British Columbia, Canada.
Other categories were Best Bottled Water, Best Sparkling and Best Packaging. A first-time Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to James M. Stevens, who introduced Perrier to America in the 1970s.
Judges spent several hours Saturday night tasting and selecting from among 77 waters from 20 states and nine foreign countries. Thirty-two municipal water samples were analyzed. Samples were rated for clarity, aroma, taste, mouth feel and aftertaste.
Gelhaus said he was raised on an area farm and drank well water all his life.
"I don't think our tap water tastes much different," he said. "I like our water here."
Unlike some communities, St. Henry does not soften its water at the treatment plant, he said, adding that may be why it tastes somewhat better than others.
When asked if the town uses some unique magical process to give the water its award-winning flavor, he laughed.
"No. We really don't do anything different," Gelhaus said.