CHESHIRE — Cheshire is vying for a mouth-watering national title.
This week, the community's drinking water will be pitted against the best small town H2O from the 49 other states in the 18th annual Great American Water Taste Test held at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Cheshire is the current state champion under the auspices of the Massachusetts Rural Water Association, an affiliate of the National RWA, sponsors of the two-day contest.
In a blind taste test on Tuesday, a panel of judges will sample each aqua entry for taste, smell and clarity, narrowing the field to a top five. The jurists sip the finalists on Wednesday to determine the best in the country.
Courtesy of the contest sponsor, Cheshire Water Department Superintendent Travis Delratez planned to fly out on Sunday for an all-expenses-paid trip to the nation's capital. A gallon of Cheshire has already been shipped to Washington to be refrigerated until the contest commences.
Given the fallout from the drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich., Delratez is thrilled to help promote quality municipal water supplies from around the country.
"You never hear anything positive about drinking water. We're fortunate in Cheshire for what we have and shouldn't take it for granted," he told The Eagle in a phone interview.
Based on past national winners, Western Massachusetts municipal water has been among America's best for a decade. The village of Three Rivers in Palmer and Southampton took top honors in 2007 and 2008 respectively; Easthampton grabbed the gold in 2015.
Cheshire has a good chance to defend the Western Massachusetts legacy after hearing Delratez describe the quality of his town's water serving under 700 homes and businesses.
"All that mountain water coming down to our aquifer has nothing in front of it, keeping it clean," he noted.
Cheshire doesn't chlorinate its water, but regularly tests it to ensure it meets all federal and state standards.
Dick Lindsay can be reached at email@example.com and 413-496-6233