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Aug 18, 2009 11:26 PM

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.