Independence keeps winning water tasting competitions — we held our own

Best Tap Water in Kansas City

Illustration by John F. Malta

To taste some of the most awarded water in the world, you don’t have to travel far.

In February, Independence’s municipal water ranked third at the International Water Tasting Competition, the biggest and most prestigious water tasting competition in the world. Independence has been among the top five best tasting tap waters in the world for seven of the last eight years at the competition held in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.

Does Independence really have better water than the rest of us?

To find out, we collected tap water from nine major local water districts, including Independence, to conduct our own blind taste test.

We scored nine local waters from one to five on five factors: appearance (it should be clear), aroma (there should be none), taste (it should taste clean), mouth feel (it should feel light) and aftertaste (it should leave you thirsty for more).

Municipal water comes from one of two places: a well that taps groundwater or surface water from a lake, river or reservoir. Municipal wells generally offer the tastiest water.

“The major benefit to having well water is the consistency of the water,” says Karen Kelly, operations manager at Independence’s water treatment plant. “River water varies in temperature with the seasons,  and the chemical makeup is influenced by many different factors including runoff, spills, flooding and different water quality changes that happen.”

We found that Independence and Olathe both treat groundwater with great results. Meanwhile, WaterOne (most of Johnson County) and Kansas City, Missouri both use river water and fell in the middle of the pack. The Northland’s water districts use groundwater but scored poorly with our tasters.

Results:

#1 INDEPENDENCE

Groundwater

Score: 4.13

#2 GARDNER

Hillsdale Reservoir

Score: 4.08

#3 OLATHE

Groundwater

Score: 4.05

#4 JOCO WATER DISTRICT 1

Kansas and Missouri Rivers

Score: 4

#5 KCMO

Missouri River

Score: 3.96

#6 EXCELSIOR SPRINGS

Groundwater

Score: 3.32

#7 NORTH KANSAS CITY

Groundwater

Score: 3.26

#8 GLADSTONE

Groundwater

Score: 3.13

#9 LIBERTY

Groundwater

Score: 2.75

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