INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Some of the best tasting water in the world comes from Independence, Missouri.

The city once again placed in the top 5 in the U.S. and top 10 in the world in the largest and longest running water tasting competition, the 33rd annual Berkley Springs International Water Tasting Competition.

The secret to Independence’s award winning water serving much of Eastern Jackson County is deep below ground. Not far from the Missouri River sits the Courtney Bend Water Treatment Plant.

“Right now we have 32.7 million gallons of water coming in to plant 24.8 million gallons leaving the plant,” Karen Kelly, Independence Water Production Manager, said from Courtney Bend’s operations center.

The water is then pumped to a dozen cities all around the metro.

“We provide water to Blue Springs, Lee’s Summit, Oak Grove, Grain Valley, Buckner, Sugar Creek,” Kelly said.

But that water doesn’t come from the river, but 42 underground wells.

“The wells are very consistent quality excellent water. The water coming up from the ground is almost bacteria free. So the ground does a lot of the work filtering the water for us. Then we just take it out of the ground and we do just minimal treatment,” Kelly said.

That includes adding lime and chlorine, but no fluoride before it goes through a natural filter.

“The water comes in at the top makes its way down through those layers of sand and rock and that filters out any salt material in the water,” Kelly demonstrated.

The ground water is continuously monitored via computer but then there are at least daily color coded tests to make sure the water is still aesthetically pleasing, but not corrosive.

“This tells us whether we’re taking the right amount of lime or if we’re taking the right amount of minerals out,” Kelly said.

It all adds up to consistent top finishes for municipal water at the Berkley Springs International Water Tasting Contest. Independence didn’t quite match 2019’s 3rd place finish or previous silver, but still finished seventh in the world, and fourth in the U.S.

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Independence was also named the best-tasting water in Missouri by the American Water Works Association at their annual conference last month. That qualifies Independence for the Best of the Best competition this summer against cities in the U.S. and Canada.