Water, water

Anyone who has ever quaffed from an icy mountain freshet knows how pure and delicious nature's running water can be. But an isolated brook is one thing, a trafficked river another. Can water from the lower Mississippi River be the best that eight North American cities can offer? Better even than mountain water from New York State?

That's hard to swallow.

But it's what judges concluded at the annual convention of the American Water Works Association. It arose in the wake of a challenge from Dallas's mayor, who said his city had the best water. Third-best, judges said.

America has made enormous progress in cleaning up its waterways. Cities across the continent have learned to tap bountiful rivers, then sanitize the water.

But is this what produces the best, the tastiest? Maybe so, New Orleans: After all, your Mighty Mississippi won.

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