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Mike Creger, Forum News Service, Published September 11 2013

Duluth drinking water judged Minnesota's best; Moorhead makes finals

DULUTH - Start bragging, Duluthians. Our water has been deemed the best tasting in the state.

A sample brought by city of Duluth water plant employees to the Minnesota American Water Association’s annual conference Wednesday at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center beat out those from three other cities — International Falls, Moorhead and St. Cloud.

But taste really has nothing to do with it, said Michael Simpson, one of four judges.

“It had no taste,” he said. “That’s what I look for.”

Simpson, who is on the association’s national board, had an especially unbiased stance. He’s from Indiana.

Other judges were from Minnesota, including water equipment salesman Rod Ganther of Blaine, who was the second judge to deem Duluth’s water the best.

“It’s pure. It’s crisp. It has no odor,” Ganther said.

It wasn’t an easy win. The judges were deadlocked at 2-2 between Duluth and International Falls after testing the four water samples twice and voting twice. A fifth judge had to come in to break the tie and declare Duluth the winner.

Residents in the “Icebox of the Nation” are likely crying in their glasses of water today. Its water was deemed the “people’s choice” winner at the Minnesota State Fair this summer, giving it an automatic entry into Wednesday’s contest.

International Falls had been riding quite a wave with its water, winning the state title last year and going on to the water association’s national conference and winning second in a “best of the best” competition among water plants from across the country.

“Minnesota has very good water,” said Brian Bergantine, an American Water Association member from Moorhead, which has won the state title twice in the past. He moderated the judges panel. “It shows (plant workers) are doing their job.”

Eight cities vied for the title before they were whittled to the final four for the state conference.

Bergantine said he really wanted to show off the traveling trophy that goes to the city with the best water. But the association was too efficient.

“It’s out getting engraved,” he said.

Duluth will now enter the national competition in June.