Some drinking waters are better than others. And, no, we're not talking about whether you like Dasani or Highbridge on the bottled-water aisle.
We're talking about water that comes out of your tap if you live outside Kentucky's urbanized areas.
Lewisport's water apparently is Kentucky's best among rural systems, as decided by a panel of independent judges — including myself — on Tuesday night.
It will now move on to national competition.
The judged competition is part of the Kentucky Rural Water Association convention being held at Lexington Center. The Bowling Green-based organization has 342 members.
Lewisport, with a population of just more than 1,700, is in Hancock County, along the Ohio River in Western Kentucky. Lewisport is something of a legend in rural drinking water competitions, having won for the past six years. Even with different judges from year to year, the little water system is something of a superstar.
Behind Lewisport, which uses well water and has 3,000 connections, is Laurel County Water District #2 and Warren County Water District.
Five judges drank up 16 anonymized samples and assessed them on clarity, smell, taste and overall quality. It's a little like wine tasting. There's a ceremony attached to the presentation, with two people moving down the judging table to fill sample cups and each of the five judges getting a "waste pitcher" for leftover water.
Judging water quality falls somewhere between art and science and whatever preconceived notions you have about what makes a long tall drink of water. After samples were poured, judging sheets were distributed for each sample and collected before another sample was distributed. Each sample came in a clean cup, so earlier samples would not contaminate the new one.
In addition to myself, judges were Kay Sanborn, executive director of the Kentucky/Tennessee section of the American Water Works Association; Jonathan Cummings of Wascon, which provides water system equipment; Teresa Faulkner of Assured Neace Lukens; and Steve Gott of S&K Equipment.
As judging proceeded, Gott explained that everything from the water's source to how it is stored can affect its quality.
Some of the water samples had a stronger smell than others, usually a chlorinelike brine; one judge noticed some sediment in an otherwise fine-tasting sample.
"I thought most of them had fine clarity and good smell," Sanborn said. "The differences were in taste."
Cummings, who grew up on well water, said he didn't notice a distinct smell with any of the samples.
Lewisport's water now advances to the national competition held annually by the National Rural Water Association in September.
The reigning national champion is Easthampton Water Department in Massachusetts. That water's winning way was attributed by Tom Newton, supervisor of Easthampton Water Works, to its finely balanced pH. Pure water has a pH of 7, tilting neither toward acid nor base.
In a release from the National Rural Water Association, Newton described his water as "very crisp. It takes very little treatment."