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Water- how is it in your city?

The original ingredient...I grew up in Southern California and only knew the flavor of water vacuumed off the desert floor and heavily treated- some cities in the coastal desert had better stuff than others, but for the most part they were only different in concentrations of flouride (which I am certain is a contributor to the relatively good state of dental health in the US), salts, and chlorine. My city even had desalinated seawater for a while- the worst tasting by far. My opinion of civic engineering and water taste changed after a trip to Rome: the stuff was so delicious, mineral, cool and quaffable that it made a trip to the fountain on the corner the ultimate dessert after a night of serious eating and drinking. After tasting New York's supply, I believe that everything they say about that city's supply is true- and makes it good enough to guzzle from above while taking a cold shower on a hot summer's day. How's it where you are? Artesian, surface, ground, melt, fossil, or rain- what do you like best? Put your city forward for having exceptionally good, or bad, water.

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  1. Montreal pretty good tasting. The worse I ever had was on vacation in North Carolina.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Evilbanana11

      I'm guessing that was coastal NC? I grew up near the Outer Banks, and the water in the area is awful. It bad enough that I bring a few bottles full of tap water from home anytime I go out there to visit my grandmother.

      1. re: mpjmph

        Yes it was coastal and we also bought some bottled water after the first day lol.

    2. My feeling is that most people will like their local water and not like that of other cities. With some exceptions. You like what you know.

      Here in TO it's pretty good. It's also among the safest drinking water in the world as I'm led to believe. The thing is, about 10 years ago in the summer it took on a strange taste and smell. I turned to a Brita and have not gone back. I now won't drink any tap water unless I have to.


      11 Replies
      1. re: Davwud

        I agree that Toronto water is pretty good. Not as good as the well water I grew up with, but good enough that about 6 months ago, following the example of my friend in public health and wanting to save money, gave up the Brita filter. Still use the jug to keep cold water in the fridge, but no filter.

        1. re: Sooeygun

          The Toronto water is reasonable. I use a six stage filter here, primarily at the instigation of my SO who also decided that anything plastic in the kitchen is the work of the devil, with the possible exception of rubbermaid.

          My favourite major city for water was Liverpool. Soft, always cool. Might have changed in the last 30 years.

        2. re: Davwud

          Toronto water is disgusting- it has a 'taste' [weirdly metallic, no matter where you drink it], and to me, water should have no taste at all. I also find that the water tastes/smells swamplike in the summer, so we use a Brita pretty much year-round, like you. It definitely makes coffee/tea taste better than straight tap water. I find Montreal water really undrinkable also- it's a close tie with Toronto's agua.

          For delicious tap water, you can't beat St. John's- I kept raving about how amazing the tea/soft drinks/beer tasted there, and finally realized it's due to their stellar water- there's a reason they're an island of tea drinkers!

          1. re: Smorgasbord

            I'm not so sure that water should have no taste at all- I really love a good dissolved mineral content. This is the reason that Perrier, San Pellegrino, and their innumerable market companions around the world exist and have a following- they each have a particular taste. I'm not a bottled water freak- I always prefer to use the tap. But the Brita, when fresh, "flattens" taste for me, and for me should only be used when your city water stinks of chlorine.

            1. re: SaltyRaisins

              I agree. I have had what I feel is good tasting water most of my life. Well water at my parents' house and it definitely had a taste because of the minerals. A cold delicious taste. Mountain water in Banff, again with minerals. And Toronto water which I now drink Brita-less

            2. re: Smorgasbord

              I love Toronto water...I crave it! The worst I ever had was Washington or Chicago, I had to spit it out when I was in Chicago.

              1. re: canadianbeaver

                The worst I ever had was in Belleville, Ontario. It was so bad, that you could taste it in the Coke as the ice cubes melted. I can't remember what was so bad about it, only that it was truly vile.

                1. re: Sooeygun

                  Belleville water is disgusting. It's not the worst I've ever tasted, though. That honour goes to Rockford Ill, circa 1974.

                  I should have taken the hint when the Rockford Holiday Inn had water coolers spaced at close intervals along the hallway walls, but I was just an innocent visitor.

                  There weren't any "don't drink the water" signs near the sink, as one finds at nice hotels in places such as Quito Ecuador. There weren't signs in the hallways telling you to drink the water out there (I assume from a different supply). I suppose the city water wasn't toxic, but it was impossible to drink.

                  1. re: embee

                    You are very close, embee. I lived in Decatur, IL for 20 years, and the water was horrible!! They did have warnings when it got really bad that pregnant women and small children shouldn't drink it because of all the farm chemicals in it. Ironically, only two hours away in STL, when you ask for bottled water there they look at you like you have a third eye. Their tap water is very drinkable, as it is where I grew up in Iowa. I think it has something to do with whether the water comes out of a natural aquifer (good) vs. some sort of ground level source.

            3. re: Davwud

              I grew up in New York City. When I was a little kid, the part of Brooklyn where I lived had its own well water supply - "Flatbush Water". You can apparently still see the well water running down the walls in some subway stations along Nostrand Av.

              Flatbush water was disgusting stuff. I couldn't have been more than a few years old when we were switched to the main New York City water supply, but I still remember Flatbush water.

              I haven't been to NYC in quite a while, so I don't know about today's situation, but New York City water was very soft, and delicious, when I lived there. Most outsiders seem to think that it comes from the surrounding rivers, but it's from high in the mountains, far from the city.

              As a long time resident of Toronto, I'd describe the water as drinkable, but not really very good. I will drink it away from home (bottled water tastes like plastic to me, and some of the bottled water is just tap water from the area that's been filtered and ozonated).

              Toronto water is flat, slightly metallic, and sometimes very heavily chlorinated. It is somewhat hard, though not sufficiently so to need a softener, and occasionally tastes swampy in the summer.

              All our drinking water at home is filtered, through three stages, and there's no comparison between this water and the stuff coming from the tap.

              I don't understand the popularity of Brita. The filtered water tastes of plastic and picks up refrigerator smells/tastes when not drunk immediately.

              1. re: embee

                NYC water is still naturally soft but they heavily chlorinate it much of the time these days. I've never been to the Pacific NW whose water I hear is similar or better but - minus the chlorine - it's still the best municipal water I've tasted.

                As for Brita filters I can't say I've ever noticed a plastic taste. Just no more chlorine. They don't filter out minerals or anything like that so it's pointless to use them if the basic water quality isn't good...

            4. It's fine in Atlanta. Nothing remarkable.

              But the best? Clermont-Ferrand, France, where my wife lived for a bit. The area is littered with dormant volcanos. The city even has springs that are reputed to heal people. Volvic is also bottled near here. When her sister came to visit, she grabbed a bottle out of the fridge, and couldn't believe how good it was. In fact, my wife had just filled up a Volvic bottle with tap water.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Reignking

                Consumer Reports rated municipal water taste about 15 years ago. I remember Atlata finished 1st, and Des Moines, Ia finished 2nd.
                They've rated them again since, and those results had changed, but I haven't noticed anything changing in the taste in Des Moines. Water is fine, except for the seemingly every 3 or 4 year 100 year floods

              2. I have moved around a bit -water summary:
                CT -artesian well was 48 degrees in summer- delicious
                Boston, NYC, Denver -superior
                Philadelphia -marginal
                Texas, Florida, South Carolina -sucks.
                Turks & Caicos - has desal on Provo now, as a supplement to roof runoff in cistern to which bleach is added, so not really potable
                Mexico City /Yucatan- to be safe, never drank it.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Veggo

                  I have artesian springs when it rains a lot here, just inland from New Haven, CT. I think our water comes from 300 feet down in rock; is cold as hell and tastes like butter, hard water, in a wonderful way.
                  New Haven: OK. We pass on bottled water.
                  NYC water tastes good. Ditto
                  Dallas water sucked big time in the summer. Comes from stinky, overheated, contaminated lakes. Other times, just acceptable.
                  Best water? Hard to say. I remember drawing buckets of cool water from the aquifer near Elgin, TX that seemed divine on a hot summer day.
                  Austin water: good
                  Vancouver water: very good.
                  The water of British Columbia is damn good. On our lake, up the coast, some drink straight from the lake if the giardia levels are low. Usually, except in summer, they are.

                  1. re: Scargod

                    It should be damn good. You have enough of them.

                    1. re: Scargod

                      Vancouver water is really good most of the time - clear and sweet tasting. Once in a while heavy rains cause mudslides into the reservoirs resulting in muddy tap water for a week or two. It's safe, though.

                  2. Richmond, VA city water is fine. At home we have our own deep well and our water is great.

                    1. Eugene, Oregon - water comes from the McKenzie River which flows from underneath springs from the Three Sisters in the Cascades. First goes into Clear Lake and then down the Valley where Eugene has their intake. Perfect PH, excellent tasting, no reason for bottled water here.

                      Phoenix, AZ (winter place) - Nasty hard water that is impossible to drink. Bad for swimming pool, wipes out hot water heaters in 10-12 years, hard as rock.

                      1. Here in Los Angeles (specifically the west SFV) the water is great, with no clorine or other off flavors. IIRC LA water ranks very high on national ratings of municipal waters. Of course, after the Northridge earthquake the stuff sucked and we had boil orders for weeks.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: TomSwift

                          I doubt that municipal water doesn't have chlorine in it. Are you sure, or you just can't smell it (is what you are saying)?

                          1. re: Scargod

                            There are water purifying systems that use UV light rather than chemicals.

                            1. re: Veggo

                              Correct. I thought these were more for home use (and expensive), and that chlorine was the standard method used by municipalities.
                              On our recent trip we had a small purifying system (ultra-fine filters and charcoal), that would stop anything.

                              1. re: Scargod

                                Chlorine is standard- it as added and then removed as part of the treatment.

                                1. re: SaltyRaisins

                                  Los Angeles switched from Chlorine to Ozone. From the LA times: "The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is embarking on an $856-million conversion of its five treatment plants to use ozone instead of chlorine to purify drinking supplies. Two plants have already made the switch and the others will make the change by 2010. ""

                                  I find the water here to be fine, and it was actually ranked highest by some blind taste test last year.

                                  Toronto was the worst I've experienced. Had a metallic taste.

                            2. re: Scargod

                              I can't smell it or taste it, which I guess isn't surprising in light of the posts below.

                              1. re: Scargod

                                Ozonation works, and doesn't leave a crappy taste or smell. It probably makes the water taste better. I believe it is common in some parts of Europe, and I know it's used in processing many brands of bottled water.

                                I'm not an expert in this field, but I asked about ozone when touring the water treatment plant in Toronto (an incredible building now closed to the public due to terrorism fears).

                                They told me that ozone doesn't leave a residual in the water after it leaves the plant, presumably making the water supply less safe. They also said it cost more, which is undoubtedly the main reason it isn't being used.

                              2. re: TomSwift

                                "Los Angeles Tap Water Judged Tastiest In The World"

                                Los Angeles has used "Chloramine" since 2001. Very hot topic of debate how safe chloramine is. Can still kill aquarium fish if it isn't removed, will not dissapate like chlorine if left out a day or so.

                              3. Excellent. Even though the suburb I'm in is pretty far south, we get Chicago water, and it is fantastic. Mmmmm.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: tzurriz

                                  I'm spoiled, the part of westcester I live in is part of the NYC watershed, so we get the same (very good) water as them.

                                  The absoulte WORST water I ever had was when I went to camp near Sturbridge, Mass the camp got its water supply from its own on site "well" which was FULL of sulfur. The resuling watrer was therefore a slighty browinsh fluid that REEKED of rotten eggs, which were were required to drink 4 glasses of per meal before we could take any other beverage, (this was somewhat hard on me becuse I had always been USED to drinking only water with my meals, and wasnt really used to washing dinner down with milk or OJ) not to mention the effect its flavor had on toothpaste. when the term was coming to an end my parents in thier last letter before the came up to get me asked if there was anything I wanted in the car my answer "Water bottled or fromt he tap at home, but LOTS of it.) Ouside the camp wasn't so bad (when we stopped for lunch, or to visit Old Sturbridge Village) though all of us (even mom and dad) went soda for lunch.

                                  1. re: jumpingmonk

                                    YUCK! I was waiting for someone to describe the disgusting well-water phenomenon that is sulfur. I remember staying over at a friend's house in Tolland, CT and almost gagging trying to brush my teeth because the water smelled so foul.

                                    I live in Middletown, CT--our tap water sux--bad enough that if we go out to eat downtown, I will go out of my way to order a beverage other than water 'cause no sir, I don't like it at all! At home we have a big cooler/bubbler of Polar Spring.

                                2. The water in Oakland is pretty darn good. They did start using chloramine in lieu of chlorine about 11 years ago, so it sucks if you're an aquarium hobbyist. You now have to treat the water before it's fish-safe. Chloramine is a bonded atom of chlorine and ammonia, so i guess it depletes the oxygen that fishies need. Not a big concern for people, unless you have gills (Patrick Duffy? anyone....?) The water in Hawaii of all places tastes weird to me. Maybe cuz most of it's from "catchment" systems. Loved the comments abt. the water from drinking fountains in Italy!! Water has never tasted so good as it did there. Could be the setting? adam

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: adamshoe

                                    I think the historical infrastructure of Italian water delivery does a lot for the taste of the water- the nice settings aside. Tapping into their aquifers they way they did must have contributed to the lack of major modern purification and delivery systems (not the case for all of Italy, I know). They are also blessed with good water geology and topography -Roman water is pretty amazing, but my best water memory is set in the town of Marino outside Rome, where you eat a porchetta sandwich with a glass of their local wine diluted with the naturally bubbly fountain water. A revelation- to lean your head over and taste it coming out of the earth that way gassata, naturalmente.

                                    1. re: SaltyRaisins

                                      It always killed me in rome how the waiters would push the bottled water, whether acqua minerale con gas or senza gas! I quickly learned how to ask for tap water- "acqua rubinetto" It was so much tastier than the bottled stuff, even though I was probably being charged for it anyway as part of the "coperto"! adam

                                  2. NYC - delicious water from the catskill mountains

                                    1. I have no idea how the water in my town tastes. We drink Brita filtered water and sparkling mineral water. Our old house is upwards of 115 y/o. Gawd knows what's in those pipes. Not taking any chances, so it's filtered and Pelegrino. Ice cold. Yum.

                                      1. We live at Lake Tahoe in the Northern Sierra Nevada mountains. We're at about 6400'. I truly miss our water when we travel. Nothing else compares in our opinion. And in the winter it's so cold that I sometimes run a little warm water in with the cold in order to comfortably brush my teeth. It makes beautiful ice cubes also :)

                                        1. Believe it or not Detroit city water is very good and supplies a huge section of SE Mi.

                                          1. The water I grew up with is my favourite, of course. Tuolumne county CA well water, that regularly got over-chlorinated and had high concentrations of naturally occurring fluoride (I was terrible about brushing my teeth as a kid, and have only had two cavities.... years after I moved to a different water district. I credit the high fluoride/calcium/misc. minerals in the water). pH of around 8.2, and burned the eyes slightly when showering due to the over-chlorination. But it tasted great to me. Heck, thanks to that, pool water tastes rather palatable to me. The bottled stuff tastes bitter to me, and has taken a lot of getting used to.

                                            I'm currently on a well in the CA central valley, with a pH of 8.2, and ammonia content of 0.25 parts per million, and 10 parts per million nitrates, and it tastes decent to me (still better than bottled), no chlorine.

                                            At work, we are on city water, which has a pH of 8.0, and 15 parts per million nitrates, and the chlorine doesn't taste very strong. It's ok.

                                            I work at a pet shop and regularly have to test people's tank water for pH, ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates, and sometimes I'll get a person who just can't get their nitrates down, so we check the tap water, and sure enough, I've had people with tap water with 0.5 parts per million ammonia, 8.2 pH, and 40 parts per million nitrates! no wonder the fish were keeling over!

                                            So to summarize, I think I have a taste for over-chlorinated, over-mineralized water. Chlorine has a bit of a sweet taste (to my tongue) which I think accounts for the fact that I think most water tastes bitter (which contributes to my not drinking of enough water according to health guidelines), unless it's over-chlorinated.

                                            1. Generally pretty good across north west England. More than happy to drink straight from the tap.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Harters

                                                I would agree with that as I've lived over big chunks of it.

                                                Down South, High Wycombe had horrendously hard water, but it tasted excellent.

                                              2. Outside of Syracuse the "town water" from the county water authority is pretty good. Well water tends to be pretty hard, and therefore pretty hard on water heaters, coffee makers, etc.

                                                OTOH - in northern NYS, up around Massena, you can find some pretty nasty sulfur water, depending on which aquifer your well taps.

                                                1. Growing up in NJ, a chlorine cocktail. Leningrad, USSR, amoebas; Mountain cabin in New Mexico, so much iron that I couldn't see my feet when I took a bath; Santa Cruz, Bolivia, had to boil and filter; Vietnam, warm from a plastic canteen. No wonder WC Fields said nasally, "Ah, water, can't stand the stuff, fish go to the bathroom and make love in it." (PG-13 version).
                                                  Wonderful well water here in Vacationland.

                                                  1. I'm a native, so I may have a home-town bias, but St. Louis has very tasty water. Our water won a 'best city' water tasting in 2007, so it's not just me that thinks so. Many years ago I met a woman who works at the water-treatment plant, and she indicated that our water is very filtration-treated, as opposed to chemically-treated, and that may be one of the reasons why it tastes so good.
                                                    I've had some pretty yucky water, and I don't know if I could ever happily live somewhere where the water was really bad. We recently vacationed in Hawaii, and as beautiful as it is, I don't think I could live there. The water was so awful that the clothes smelled bad when you took them out of the washer. (Yeah, yeah, I know...sour grapes). I once visited a town in Illinois where there was so much natural flouride in the water that everyone's teeth got brittle and cracked off by the time they were thirty. (Well, that was their story at least. Maybe there was just a town-wide aversion to dental hygiene?) The well-water at my small-town college was tasty, but so hard I couldn't make tea, like liquid granite. And I DETEST the smell and taste of 'softened' water. Epsom salts, yuck.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: tonifi

                                                      Can't stand the taste of chlorine, so we drink filtered tap. The best I've ever had was from a deep well in northern Virginia, but I'd be really leery of ground water pollution now.

                                                    2. Detroit water is good. I'm perfectly happy to drink from the tap. The worst I've had was in San Angelo TX. It was so awful I could barely bring myself to shower in it much less drink it.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: wolfmonk

                                                        In the 70's I worked underground in a uranium mine in New Mexico. We showered in water pumped up from the mine. The company had it analyzed to see if we could drink it. The response was that is isn't even fit to shower in. They started trucking in water.