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Chefs love their Border Springs lamb and Toigo Orchard apples. But water, the most ubiquitous local ingredient of them all, isn’t typically highlighted on the menu. DC Water, the local H2O distributor, is trying to change that. This spring, it embarked on a campaign to promote restaurants and breweries that use local tap water to make their food or beer. It’s the latest step in an aggressive rebranding campaign since investigations found dangerously high levels of lead in the water. Now the agency not only wants people to think of the local tap water as clean and safe, but as something worth bragging about.
New Yorkers have long boasted that their water makes their bagels and pizza so good, and DC Water wants to create the same pride here. The Pretzel Bakery in Capitol Hill and brewery DC Brau were among the first spots to promote the water in their products. As the city’s population booms and recent arrivals seek instant local roots, it’s a marketing tactic that suits the times. “People have this idea of D.C. tap water, that it’s disgusting or not fit for consumption, which is completely, completely false,” says DC Brau co-founder Brandon Skall. “We’re not ashamed of using D.C. water. In fact, we’re proud of it, and we’re not afraid to say that.”