Tap water isn’t something you usually give much thought: It’s unbranded and ubiquitous and seems so basic. But it’s not. Far more than simple H2O, tap water is a complex cocktail of minerals and chemicals. Some of the ingredients are natural—certain reservoirs have a higher calcium content, for example—some are added by humans intentionally like chlorine and fluoride, and some are present by accident, such as metallic residue from old rusty pipes.
With all those factors at play, it’s not surprising certain cities have more delicious water than others, and every year there’s a huge water taste-off to determine who has the best tap water. The Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting in West Virginia has attracted 50 countries and 46 states over its 25-year run, according to Mental Floss.
Most of the winners are small cities, many with natural springs, so it’s hard for a big city—even one with award-winning tap water like New York—to compete. Though that hasn’t kept a wild card like Atlantic City from taking the prize one year, thanks to its natural sand filters, according to one of the event organizers.
Here are this year’s top five places to quench your thirst:
1. Hamilton, Ohio
2. Emporia, Kansas
3. Clearbrook, British Columbia
4. Tie: Montpelier, Ohio; Dickinson, North Dakota; Eldorado, Colorado
5. Independence, Missouri