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The Crooked River Ranch in Central Oregon earned a silver medal in the Great American Water Taste Test.

 - Frank Day, manager of the Crooked River Ranch Water Company, takes a drink of some of the best tasting water in the country. CRRWC tied with Honeyville, Utah, in the 2021 Great American Water Taste Test.

Crooked River Ranch water rose above competitors from around the country to take second place in the Great American Water Taste Test. They share the second-place trophy with Honeyville City of Utah.

The National Rural Water Association announced the decision virtually in February as the CRR water staff gathered around the monitor to watch.

"We were pretty excited. That was pretty awesome," says Manager Frank Day. "It's not often tiny little Crooked River Ranch gets recognized on the national stage like that."

Rural water districts throughout the nation compete for the taste test title in their state. The state champions typically compete at the annual Rural Water Rally in Washington, D.C. This year, because of COVID, the National Rural Water Association held the competition virtually.

Judges measure three factors: clarity, bouquet or smell, and taste.

Crooked River Water comes by its good taste naturally. The company does not treat the water from its two wells.

"We pump water out. We put it into a tank," says Day. "It goes from the tank out to the people."

Day says the water deserves the award. Ranch residents frequently tell him they pack their water with them when they vacation away from home because everything else tastes bad by comparison.

"You're drinking one of the best tasting waters in the country," says Day. "It's a pretty big thing to say."

While it may seem simple to deliver water that simply tastes good, Day gives credit to the associations that support rural water systems like Crooked River Ranch Water Company: The National Rural Water Association and the Oregon Association of Water Utilities. PAT KRUIS/MADRAS PIONEER
 - Crooked River Ranch tied for second place in the 2021 Great American Water Taste Test with Honeyville, Utah. The Silver Medal Trophy takes its place among other trophies the utility has won. The reflection of Frank Day, manager of the Crooked River Ranch Water Company, is reflected in the trophy.

The agencies' support allowed CRRWC to get the loan they needed to build a new water tower and a new well at terms that allowed them to keep prices low to their customers.

"They get rural communities the funding they need to keep their water systems up-to-date and functioning properly," says Day.

"Coming in second place for Crooked River Ranch is a huge deal. Absolutely!" says Joel Gehrett, general manager of the Deschutes Valley Water District, which serves Culver, Metolius and Madras. "The only reason we didn't make it to the national competition was because we finished second to Crooked River Ranch at our local competition.

Deschutes Valley Water has frequently won first place in the state. "We have the same type of water from the same location," says Gehrett. "So, a win for them is a win for us."

Deschutes Valley gets its water from Opal Springs, Crooked River Ranch gets its water from two wells drilled into the aquifer that feeds Opal Springs. Essentially, it's the same water.

"It totally is," says Day. "Joel can ride my shirttails as much as he wants because I'll ride his when he wins, too."

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