Hundreds of Dixie cups were used and a few gallons of waters were consumed Thursday afternoon in an effort to determine which municipality could claim the title of tastiest drinking water in Schenectady County.
After a two-hour blind taste test, the choice was crystal clear.
Niskayuna won the title based on votes from about 75 participants, edging out Rotterdam, which finished second. Scotia, Glenville and the city of Schenectady also participated in Thursday’s event.
From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., those passing by City Hall and the farmers’ market at the corner of Jay and Franklin streets could stop by a tent to sample each municipality’s water and then vote for their top two choices when they were finished. With the win, Niskayuna advances to a regional competition in Albany.
Five pitchers of water sat on a table, with a couple of Dixie cups in front of each one. The pitchers were randomly assigned a letter, A-E, to ensure it remained a mystery to taste-testers which town or city the water came from.
There was a strategy for some as they went through the options, while others were guided by a specific quality.
“The key is to take your time,” said one woman who claimed Rotterdam had the best water, and then voted for what ended up being Schenectady.
“To me the first one always tastes the best, and then the rest taste weird,” said Karen McWatters, a Niskayuna resident. “I suggested they provide crackers to cleanse your palette between cups, but they didn’t go for it.”
“I liked the ones that didn’t taste like they had anything in them,” said Kyle Markham, who is 9 years old and voted for Rotterdam and Glenville as his two favorites. Kyle’s sister, Camille, age 7, had a simple way of determining which one earned her vote. “The one that was coldest,” she said.
In order to ensure the taste wasn’t affected by temperature and the water remained fresh, each pitcher was only filled about one-fifth of the way at a time. If Dixie cups had been sitting out for too long and the water could’ve gotten warm, volunteers tossed out the cup and replaced it.
Niskayuna Town Supervisor Joe Landry stopped by to cast his vote. He said all the options were cold and good, and he was unable to tell which one was Niskayuna’s water based on taste alone.
Jason Pelton, Schenectady County’s groundwater management planner, said the water for the five participating municipalities comes from the same aquifer. He added that the warm weather and farmers’ market helped draw more participants to the event.
“It’s a good way to give recognition to the guys who provide quality drinking water to the area,” Pelton said. Representatives from each town or city were at the event and brought their own water.
Niskayuna, which knocked off defending champion Schenectady, will send its water to a regional competition in Albany.
The winner of that vote moves on to the state final, which is held at the New York State Fair in Syracuse. Niskayuna and Rotterdam, this year’s first and second place finishers, respectively, have previously won state titles.
As for the other participants in Thursday’s event, it’s back to the coolers until next year.
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