Well never noticed a water pan hurting any smoked product I've made. In fact I dont smoke w/o it. Guess Noo Yawk Water works different than Foat Wuth Water
One of old Joe Ames favorite trick was to poach up the sausage in a big pot o water till done..keeping the heat level around 170 then finish off with a cold smoke. I tried it a time or two and it wasnt bad. Nearly all the commercial stuff you get is cooked quickly in steam cabinets. Must be room for water in this equation somewhere.