How the world’s best-tasting water is made in Hamilton

The world’s best-tasting water lies only a few hundred feet under Hamilton’s houses and businesses.

City residents and businesses and several Butler County customers have the distinct pleasure of being able to turn on their tap and watch award-winning water flow. In February, Hamilton’s municipal water took home the gold at the 25th Annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting, beating out past winners to be declared the “Best Tasting Tap Water in the World.”

Water superintendent John Bui credits the win with the clean source of water that is pumped from 200 feet below the ground into the South Water Treatment Plant on River Road, just outside the city limits.

“We start out with a very good source from the Great Miami Valley Aquifer,” Bui said. “You can almost drink it straight from the well.”

The South Water Treatment Plant serves as the primary facility for Hamilton’s water distribution, pumping about 16 million gallons per day. It has the capacity to pump up to 40 million gallons per day, but because the city doesn’t have a current need for so much water, the extra equipment serves more as backup should any part break down. The North Water Treatment Plant, at 6 million gallons per day capacity, also serves as a backup facility and raw water and cooling source for the Third Street Electric Plant.

That water, once pumped out of the ground, moves through one of the plant’s four aerators to dissolve any gases, like carbon dioxide and oxidize, and any existing metals. Then the water flows into a massive basin where lime is added to the raw water to decontaminate it and is further treated to soften the water. Through further filtering and decontamination, the water is constantly monitored, with one of the plant’s 10 operators taking samples every two hours from every step of the process to ensure the right level of hardness, its cleanliness, and ultimately its trademark taste.

The plant also produces about 55 cases of bottled water a day to sell to local businesses like Fort Hamilton Hospital or to use at promotional events or to donate to charitable events and disaster sites around the world. But as only one retired volunteer works the entire bottling line, filling bottles, capping the tops, creating the labels and stacking the bottles in cases, there’s no room currently for expansion, Bui said.

Soon, Hamilton’s water may even become a household name out of state, as the writers of “Saturday Night Live” found the win significant enough to use during the show’s “Weekend Update” routine on Feb. 28.

Hamilton’s tap water was named the “Best Tasting Tap Water in the World” at the 25th Annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting on Saturday in Berkeley Springs, W. Va. Hamilton’s water was judged against former gold medalists, including Clearbrook, British Columbia (three-time champion, including 2014); Emporia, Kansas (2013) and Greenwood, British Columbia (2012), according to a press release.

It’s even more significant that this is the second time in five years Hamilton’s water has been judged the best, having won first place in 2010. It also took home the 2009 Silver Medal as the Second Best Tasting Tap Water in the World and the Best Tasting Tap Water in the U.S, as well as the 2012 and 2014 “Best of the Best” award for Ohio’s best tasting tap water by the Ohio Section of the American Water Works Association.

“We are very fortunate to have the source that we have in this area, and a lot of time we take water for granted, where you wake up in the morning, you turn on the water and you expect it to be there,” Bui said.

And is there any worry of this great-tasting water running out? Not right now, Bui said.

“We monitor the groundwater levels, and collect samples throughout the aquifer area and we see fluctuations, but it’s all averaged out,” he said.

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