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Originally published Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 8:33 PM

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Tiny Nebraska town’s water wins annual taste test

In a contest held by a national water-quality association, the best-tasting water came from Curtis, Neb., population 935. The silver medal went to Stansbury Park, Utah, and the bronze to Fulton, Mo.

McClatchy Washington Bureau

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WASHINGTON — The National Rural Water Association held its annual Great American Water Taste Test on Wednesday, and it turned out that the best-tasting drink in the house came from Curtis, Neb., population 935.

“There’s no treatment whatsoever,” Mike Stanzel of the Nebraska Rural Water Association said of his gold medal-winning water. “It’s right out of the ground, right into the tower and right out of the sink.”

The silver medal went to Stansbury Park, Utah, and the bronze to Fulton, Mo.

What makes a good-tasting rural water? As with wine: clarity, bouquet and taste.

“When they say bouquet, it should have no bouquet,” said one of the judges, Jacki Ponti-Lazaruk, an administrator who’s responsible for water and environmental programs in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office.

Other judges came from the USDA, as well, and from the White House Office of Management and Budget.

The event was the climax of the water association’s annual Rural Water Rally, which began Monday, drawing members from 49 states. They advocate for small, rural towns, whose sizes belie the responsibility they share for large portions of America’s food- and energy-production capacity. Water is their lifeblood.

As for how water should taste, Ponti-Lazaruk put it this way: “You want it to be as clean and crisp as possible. You know good water when you taste it.”

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