Chelsea’s Drinking Water is the Best in Michigan, But What About the Country?


Chelsea’s water sample container for The 2024 Great American Water Taste Test. Photo courtesy City of Chelsea Water and Wastewater Department.

This week the City of Chelsea is participating in the Great American Water Taste Test, which is being held during Rural Water Rally 2024, a conference organized annually by the National Rural Water Association (NRWA). Chelsea’s participation in the national competition comes after its water was voted the best-tasting in Michigan last March, during the Michigan Rural Water Association’s (MRWA) 2023 annual conference.

Each year at MRWA’s conference, member communities have the opportunity to submit a water sample to be voted on as “the best tasting” in Michigan. The competition is voluntary and doesn’t reflect the water’s safety or quality, according to Melissa Lincoln, the Director of Membership for the Okemos-based MRWA.

Lincoln says the competition is all in good fun, and submitting a sample is not required for any members or conference attendees. She clarified that the judges are not experts and are selected at random each year. The contest is simply a fun part of the state and national conference experiences.

Chelsea’s Water and Wastewater Superintendant Corey Davis says water samples are scored on, “clarity, aroma, and taste. The field is narrowed down to 5 finalists [and] judges score the finalists on all 3 areas. The water sample with the highest score over all 3 categories wins the best tasting water in Michigan Award.”

MRWA provides airfare and travel costs for the winning community to send one person to represent Michigan at the national competition. Superintendent Davis says Chelsea selected its Water Department Foreman John Powell to travel to Washington, DC with a water sample to represent Chelsea and the state of Michigan this week. While the conference begins today, Monday, February 5th, according to the conference schedule, the taste test takes place on Wednesday, February 7th.

Established in 1990, MRWA’s mission is, “To provide our water and wastewater utility members with resources, education, and networking in order to enhance the quality of services to those members’ customers.” Its national counterpart, the NRWA, is a nonprofit membership organization of 50 state rural water associations that lobbies annually for millions of dollars in water system equipment and upgrades.

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