Create a Section Taste Test

A water taste competition is a fun and exciting way to draw attention to the complexities of delivering safe and great-tasting tap water.

When held during your annual conference, Drinking Water Week or some other section event, it can also serve as a news hook to increase media interest in your event or celebration. Below are a few items to keep in mind when developing your own taste test.

Items to consider

Drafting the rules

First and foremost you must determine the rules for your competition. For instance, who is eligible, what the requirements for participation are and how the samples will be judged are all items to consider.


When deciding who is eligible for the taste test, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Participating utilities should be affiliated with AWWA either through utility or individual memberships.
  • Participants should not have had any state or federal drinking water violations (MCL, monitoring, record-keeping, etc.) for a specified period of time. AWWA's national competition requires participants to have had no violations during the calendar year prior to the competition.


You must then decide what the requirements for participation will be.

  • How you want the water samples delivered (type/size of container; in person or shipped)?
  • What is the deadline for delivering the water?
  • Will you require a utility representative to be present?

Contest judging

Things to consider when picking your panel:

  • Who will act as judges (public figures, Section board members, flavor profile analyzers, etc.)?
  • How will the samples be judged (Will it be a scale of 1-10, 1-5, etc.)?
  • Will you rank all samples, just announce the winner or the top 3, etc.?
  • Will you have different categories based on size of water system, source water, etc.?*

* Please note that if you do break up your competition into multiple categories, you will need to have a Best in Show to send the winner to the ACE Taste Test.

Event planning

Once you have set your contest rules, it is time to start planning the actual event. Check out AWWA's Public Communication Toolkit for a comprehensive guide to event planning.

Defining your event

You must also determine the purpose of the event. Obviously, the purpose of the contest is to determine the best tasting water. However, do you want your event to be a media event, a formal event or a casual event? Will the event simply be about the water tasting or will you use it as a platform to discuss other issues?

Identifying your audience

For a formal technical event you would expect your audience to be members of the water community who have a basic understanding of water taste and odor issues. For a more casual media or community event you would expect the audience to be filled with journalists, local families and others with far less technical understanding.

Determining your program

When drafting your program agenda, you should keep in mind your goals and audience. Will you include lots of technical information or will you provide more explanatory information and gear your presentation to the layman?

Here are just a few other items to keep in mind for your water tasting event:
  • It's a good idea to keep your samples covered until they're ready to be tasted.
  • Samples should be tasted at room temperature to allow for any tastes or odors that are present to be detected more easily.