32nd annual Berkeley Springs International Water Festival heralds world’s best waters

by Lisa Schauer

Jill Klein Rone of Berkeley Springs produces the International Water Festival for Travel Berkeley Springs.

Bottled water companies and municipalities from around the world entered the water tasting competition in the 32nd annual Berkeley Springs International Water Festival held February 25-26 at The Country Inn.

A panel of nine certified water tasters judged the competition. For the second time, online voting was held to decide the people’s choice award for best packaging. Winners were announced on Saturday, February 26.

Fourteen municipalities competed for best municipal water, with the Village of Montpelier, Ohio once again pulling out a win.

Forty-six still waters competed for best non-carbonated bottled water. A new entrant, Vortex from Meriden, Conn. earned the gold for best non-carbonated bottled water.

Winning for the best purified bottled water was Ophora hyper-oxygenated water from Santa Barbara, Calif.  Hyper-oxygenated water is a new water product that has oxygen added to it during the bottling process.

Twelve sparkling waters competed for the best carbonated bottled water. Another first-time entrant, Big Wet Sparkling Spring Water from Victoria, Australia took the top honor.

Of ten entrants competing for best packaging, Hawaiian Springs Natural Artesian Water from Kea’au, Hawaii won gold.

The complete list of award winners from the 2022 Berkeley Springs International Water Festival follows:

Best municipal water
1 – Village of Montpelier, Ohio;
2 – Metropolitan Water District of Southern California;
3 – Mission Springs Water District, Desert Hot Springs, Calif.;
4 — Fort Wayne, Ind.; and
5 – Hamilton, Ohio.

Best non-carbonated water
1 – Vortex of Meriden, Conn.;
2 – Halstead Springs of Speedwell, Tenn.; Tie 3 – Asagiri no Shizuku of Shizuka, Japan and Smeraldina of Sardinia, Italy;
Tie 4t – Theoni of Karditsa, Greece
and Grand Springs of Alton, Va.

Best Sparkling Water
1 – Big Wet Sparkling Spring Water of Victoria, Australia;
Tie 2 – Boston Clear Water of Lynnfield, Mass. and Vortex of Meriden, Conn.
3 – Aqua To Go of Victoria, Australia; and 4 – Antipodes of Whakatane, New Zealand.

Best Purified Drinking Water
1– Ophora of Santa Barbara, California; 2 – Hamilton On Tap of Hamilton, Ohio; and 3 – Lesage Natural of Lesage, W.Va.

Package Design
1 – Hawaiian Springs of Kea’au, Hawaii; 2 – Antipodes of Whakatane, New Zealand;

3rd – Babinda Springs of Queensland, Australia;
4th – Svalbarði of Longyearbyen, Norway; and
5th – Smeraldina of Sardinia, Italy.

“Water: Beneath the surface and around the globe” was the theme for the 2022 International Water Festival. It included educational seminars on the business, politics and science of water.

Jonathan Bellingham, third-generation owner of Capon Springs and Farm, provided a detailed historical and scientific account of the mineral springs at Capon Springs.

Jonathan Bellingham, third-generation owner of Capon Springs and Farm, spoke on the history of Berkeley Springs and Capon Springs from the 1700s to today.

Bellingham said Berkeley Springs became better known than Capon Springs because it was on the wagon trail, making it easier for city dwellers to get here in the springs’ glory days during the 1880s.

Water infrastructure science specialst Scott Shipe discussed the reasons behind the rising cost of municipal waters. He detailed the results of a nationwide rate survey he conducted to isolate the underlying causes of the rising cost of water.

Shipe said due to inflation and other factors such as rising infrastructure costs and political favoritism, people are increasingly unable to pay their water bill. In his remarks, he stressed that water should not be political.

The nation’s highest average residential water bills are in Alaska and West Virginia.