Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
BATAVIA — When it comes to drinking water, Geneva has bragging rights.
On Friday, Geneva defended its title in the Kane County Water Association’s annual water tasting contest at Lincoln Inn Banquets in Batavia.
“We put a lot of work into producing high-quality drinking water, and it is nice to see our efforts come through,” said Mike Martens, Supervisor of Water Supply & Treatment for the city of Geneva.
Geneva’s second consecutive win in the county taste test entitles the municipality to compete again at the state level in March. Aurora was known as a “taste test dynasty” among those in the industry for having won at the state level in previous years.
While the Kane County Water Association membership is a congenial group that meets regularly, they do take the annual contest seriously.
The other competitors were Aurora, North Aurora, Batavia, Sugar Grove, Elgin and Carpentersville. Representatives from each municipality carried in a sampling of their water, which is nonchalantly brought in canning type jars and not under lock-and-key.
The samples are placed into unidentified beakers of water for the judges to pour a sampling from. The judges rate each sample on a range of 1 to 10, with 10 being the very best. The judges base their decisions on taste, odor and clarity.
This year’s judges were Kane County Board member Melisa Taylor, chemical engineer John Boll of Carus Corp. of LaSalle, 95.9 The River’s on-air personality Danielle Tufano and Beacon-News correspondent Linda Girardi.
“There is no scientific method for testing — you have to rely on your nose and taste buds,” said Boll, who lives in Aurora.
Color and clarity can be measured in the laboratory, he said.
Most communities in Kane County get their water from deep and shallow wells, with the exception of Aurora and Elgin that use Fox River water. Each municipality has a different treatment process. Between the cities, they have more than 1,600 miles of water mains underground.
Geneva is the only municipality in Kane County that uses a reverse osmosis treatment method for its water, put into operation in March of 2008.
“It’s basically a fancy name for pressurized water that is sent through a membrane,” Martens said.
Martens said the only thing that comes out of the membrane is pure water. A portion of the filtered water is blended back in with well water, he said.
Engineer Timothy Grimm of Rempe-Sharpe & Associates of Geneva said it is easy for consumers to take for granted all of the work that goes into producing quality drinking water.
“These guys every day are in their treatment plants, making sure the quality equipment is working properly,” Grimm said.
As for the judging,
“I was glad that they asked me to participate because I was very thirsty,” Taylor said.
Taylor said she was invited to be a judge without anyone knowing she is on the Water Conservation Task Force.
“Water is a big deal to me. Turn the water off and we’re all in trouble,” she said.