Stevens Point’s water is this year's recipient of the American Water Works Association's “Best of the Best” taste competition for the second year in a row, beating out New York City.
The Association began this competition in 2005 to combat the negative connotations drinking water was gaining when compared to filtered bottled water.
The contest scores solely the taste of each municipality's water. This raised the question to a few Stevens Point students of just how well the water would do in a quality test.
“There are a lot of contaminants that are tasteless and odorless that they can filter out to meet EPA health standards, but they are not necessarily completely gone,” said Nicole Feiten, a senior Water Resources student at The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. “So you wouldn't necessarily taste them, but they could still be there.”
Adam Greuel, a junior at UWSP, grew up just outside of Stevens Point and attended high school in the city.
“Between a private well on the Wisconsin River and the water we drink here in town, there is very little difference in taste.” said Greuel. “I was quite satisfied with both; I guess I've just never really worried about possible micro bacteria in the water before.”
While Feiten agreed with the positive results of the contest, she was a little concerned about these “possible micro bacteria.”
“In this area, agriculture is a big part of our landscape, so anything from fertilizers to pesticides could be in the groundwater. And since we have such sandy soils, contaminants that might be filtered out by clay or other soils aren't necessarily removed naturally,” Feiten said.
The Stevens Point Water Department website does state that there are possible trace amounts of contaminants in the water, just like any other municipal water system. The same page says “the presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that the water poses a health risk.”
Stevens Point's water may be the “Best of the Best” taste-wise, but a whole different competition would be necessary to determine water quality ranks in the nation.
“It's the difference between walking into a room that's been sprayed with Febreze, versus walking into one that's genuinely clean,” said Greuel. “Either one could win if you're judging it on the scent.”