A city in Queensland has been judged to have the best-tasting drinking water in Australia, with Toowoomba receiving the top gong by popular vote in today’s third annual Best Tap Water in Australia competition.
The winning sample was taken from Toowoomba Regional Council’s Mt Kynoch Scheme.
Water Industry Operators Association of Australia chief operation officer Craig Mathisen said competition this year had been stiff.
Water providers in each state blind tasted samples at their annual conferences to choose finalists for the national competition, where 150 tasters made the final decision.
Finalists included Icon Water in the ACT, SA Water, Goulburn Valley Water in Victoria, and Fenton in Tasmania.
“All the samples were at the high end. Australia is very fortunate to have high-quality drinking water across all of our communities,” Mr Mathisen said.
“It’s an interesting competition and for us it’s a real celebration of what the businesses and operators do 24/7.”
What does water taste like?
“It surprises a lot of people that water has different tastes depending on where it comes from,” Mr Mathisen said.
It’s not until you actually taste samples from various parts of the state or the country that you start to notice some discernible differences.
“A lot of the time it can be dependent on the source of the water.”
Professor Peter Scales, from Melbourne University’s Department of Chemical Engineering, said most of Australia’s drinking water was surface water, sourced from reservoirs.
Aquifer water was used in Perth, Adelaide and various inland sites.
Professor Scales said all drinking water was put through a purifying process to remove particulates and organic compounds, and to adjust the salt component, which contributed to differences in taste and aesthetics.
“A lot of people don’t like water from Adelaide or Perth because it’s quite salty water,” he said.
“Typically waters from mountain streams that don’t have very much salt, organics or toxins tend to be the best-tasting waters.
“But there is quite a subjective nature to what is a good water. People have different tastes.”
Clear and transparent competition
Samples in the final competition were judged on a variety of features including colour, clarity and odour.
Mr Mathisen said the best water had to be clear and transparent, but the true test was taste.
He said 150 tasters from Launceston, the town that took home last year’s title, had been surprised by the variation of the water samples taken from around Australia.
“Some [samples] had a bit more of a murkiness to them, but they were all of a very high quality,” Mr Mathisen said.
“[Tasters] were interested that water doesn’t just taste the same — that was probably the main message we received.”
Toowoomba will now represent Australia at the International Water Tasting Competition in America in February.
“The community of Toowoomba will be rapt with the news,” Mr Mathisen said.
“There’s no cash prize but there’s a lot of bragging rights.
“Obviously it helps those communities celebrate the water and have the communities think about their water supplies, which is really the result we’re trying to achieve.”