Niskayuna wins best tasting water in the state

New York State Fair patrons had the chance to judge the 30th edition of the state water tasting contest at on Friday -- and the results were great news for Niskayuna. The town's water was the people's choice and declared state champion. (Michael J. Okoniewski/NYS Fair)New York State Fair patrons had the chance to judge the 30th edition of the state water tasting contest at on Friday -- and the results were great news for Niskayuna. The town's water was the people's choice and declared state champion. (Michael J. Okoniewski/NYS Fair)

— Niskayuna bested all other municipalities in the state on Friday by winning the best-tasting tap water contest at the New York State Fair in Syracuse.

Although this isn’t its first victory (the town also won in 2012), it still tastes sweet, according to Town Supervisor Joe Landry.

Earlier in August, Niskayuna won the best-tasting tap water in the Capital Region, beating a neighboring town by a slim margin of three votes.

At the state-level contest, Niskayuna won against four other regional winners: the village of Perry of Wyoming County, the town of Richland of Oswego County, Ray Brook Water District in Essex County and New York City.

While the Department of Health did not have the exact margin of the victory, a representative said that New York City took second place to Niskayuna.

“We’re very excited here in Niskayuna. Our staff works very hard both in the Water and Sewer Department and at the water plant. So I’d really like to thank all our staff for this,” Landry said.

This is the third time in the last five years that Niskayuna has won the regional contest and gone on to compete at the State Fair.

The contest has been running for 30 years, according to Manoj Ajmera, who helps organize the contest and is a member of the Water and Wastewater Education and Outreach Committee.

Contest organizers have people blind taste various tap water samples, which are kept at room temperature.

This year, 200 fairgoers taste-tested samples of each regional winner’s water and voted for whichever cup they thought tasted the best.

For Ajmera, the contest isn’t about the winner (or on the precision of the taste-testing methods), but about educating the public and getting people interested in water.

With the water disaster in Flint, Michigan, and the water-quality issues in Hoosick Falls, national attention has turned more toward water.

In Niskayuna, there is a major water line replacement project underway along Pearse and Lishakill roads, which are busy roads.

The town’s superintendent of water, sewer and engineering for Niskayuna, Richard Pollock, said that while the test isn’t scientific, at least it raises awareness around the town and the state about water quality.

Niskayuna’s water comes from the Great Flats Aquifer, which serves more than 150,000 residents in Schenectady and Saratoga counties.

For Denise Murphy McGraw, councilwoman on the Town Board, what sets Niskayuna’s water apart from other towns that get it from the Great Flats Aquifer is the dedication of the town employees.

“As chairwoman of the Town Board’s Public Works Committee, I’ve seen first-hand how hard the employees of the Water and Sewer Department work each and every day. This is a great victory for them and for the residents of Niskayuna,” Murphy-McGraw said shortly after the state victory.

Pollock jokingly added, “We’re onto the national or universal level contest now, right?”

For now, the contest ends at the state level and Niskayuna will have to wait until next year to try its hand at tasting victory again.

Reach Gazette reporter Indiana Nash at 417-9362, inash@dailygazette.net or @indijnash on Twitter.