BY INDIANA NASH
ALBANY — The town of Niskayuna was recognized for having the best-tasting tap water in the Capital Region for 2016, the third time it’s won the honor in five years.
The town will advance to compete for the best-tasting tap water in the state next month.
Niskayuna won the most votes at the Capital Region Tap Water Taste Testing, which was held at the Alive at Five concert in Albany on Thursday, Aug. 4.
Ninety people sampled water from Green Island, Troy, Fort Plain, Clifton Park and Niskayuna.
Participants tasted samples of each and voted on their choice of best and second best.
“Clifton Park Water Authority was a close second. Niskayuna won by three votes,” said Manoj Ajmera, the contest organizer and member of the Water and Wastewater Education and Outreach Committee.
Niskayuna will heading to the final round of the contest at the State Fair in Syracuse on Sept. 2, 2016.
This final round will decide the state’s tap water champion for 2016.
This isn’t the first time Niskayuna has tasted victory of this sort.
“We won in 2012, 2013 and now in 2016,” town Supervisor Joe Landry said of winning the Capital Region tap water crown.
After winning the Capital Region contest in 2012, Niskayuna went on to win at the state level and Landry is hoping for another win this year.
“The fact that we won the best tasting tap water is just a reflection of the dedication of our crew,” Landry said of the town’s Water and Sewer Department.
Over the summer the town has been in the process replacing water lines along Pearse and Lishakill roads, which are two major routes in town. “We invest in our infrastructure here,” Landry said.
Ajmera said that the motivation behind the contest is to get people thinking about their water and water quality.
“I worked at the New York State Department of Health for many years, but I still do this in retirement because water is my passion,” Ajmera said.
During his career at the DOH, Ajmera worked with others in the department to try to localize the public interest in water. Thus, they came up with the idea a little over 30 years ago to have a tap water tasting contest.
“It’s a very subjective and unscientific contest, that’s what I tell everyone,” Ajmera said. “But it creates interest in water quality and gets people talking.”
This year, people have been asking more questions than usual about water quality, given the national and local focus on water quality problems.
Niskayuna’s water comes from the Great Flats Aquifer, which serves more than 150,000 residents in Schenectady and Saratoga counties.
“We have three plant operators [at Niskayuna’s water treatment plant] that really take their jobs very seriously …,” Landry said.
“I just want to thank all of our crews and staff,” Landry said of the regional victory.
Throughout the past 30 years of running the contest, Ajmera said, “We are very lucky in New York to have good drinking water.”