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Canton captures county water tasting contest

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CANTON - On a sweltering hot day, the village of Canton once again captured the “best-tasting drinking water award” in St. Lawrence County and now advances to a regional competition.

“They get bragging rights and their name on this trophy,” said Bruce W. Stone, district director of the state Health Department. “It’s kind of patterned after the Stanley Cup.”

A total of 30 people cast their ballots in a local taste-off contest Tuesday morning in the lobby of the county’s Human Services Building, Route 310.

“It’s completely subjective. It’s not scientific,” Mr. Stone explained to those who stepped up to compare the water samples.

Sipping from small plastic cups of cold water, participants let their tastebuds decide whether to choose Water A or Water B as the best tasting.

The village of Canton and Ogdensburg were the only communities who entered this year’s event, which usually draws more competitors. It’s sponsored by the state Health Department, the county Public Health Department and the county’s Water Quality Coordinating Committee.

“We didn’t have as much time to get ready this year,” Mr. Stone said. “Next year, I want to have the water suppliers provide displays that show where their water comes from and how it gets treated.”

After the hour-long contest ended, the village of Canton water had 19 votes compared to 11 for the city of Ogdensburg. Canton also won the contest in 2010, 2011 and 2012 while the village of Hermon won in 2008 and 2009.

James R. Sherman and his wife, Bernadette M., Norwood, both lodged a vote for Water A, which came from the village of Canton water supply.

“Definitely A is the better tasting water,” Mr. Sherman said. “I can taste a little bitterness in the other water.”

But Morgan N. Sabre, 12, and her sister Abigail A., 10, both liked the Ogdensburg water better. Their 6-year-old sister, Quinn M., disagreed and chose Canton.

“I think A (Canton) tasted more like chlorine,” Abigail said.

Canton’s municipal water comes from groundwater originating at Waterman Hill, a few miles from the village. The city of Ogdensburg draws surface water from the St. Lawrence River. Both communities chlorinate their water. Ogdensburg adds fluoride, but Canton decided to remove

Myrna J. Barney, a public health sanitarian, said people tend to favor the water they are accustomed to. Water from a groundwater source may have a mineral taste that may not appeal to those served by a surface water source.

“People unaccustomed to a chlorinated supply are often sensitive to chlorine and find it not as palatable,” Ms. Barney said.

Next, the competition moves onto the Burnett Park Zoo, Syracuse, where water from Canton will be submitted for a regional contest. Regional winners compete at the State Fair, Syracuse, on Aug. 29.

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