As soon as I took my first sip I knew I was in over my head. It tasted like water. It was water.

How do you judge aroma and flavor? Is it fishy, musty, woody or other? Did it taste metallic, salty or leave a lingering aftertaste?But there I was - one of four guest judges selecting the Wasatch Front's tastiest water as part of Utah Drinking Water Week celebrated during festivities Wednesday at the Granger Hunter Water Improvement District.

I glanced at my fellow judges, Dr. Harry Gibbons, director of the Salt Lake City-County Health Department, KSL-TV's John Hollenhorst and the Salt Lake Tribune's Jim Woolf - and they all looked like they knew what they were doing while they dutifully marked their checklists.

Then I thought I spied Gibbons running a chemical analysis for arsenic.

I took another sip. It still tasted like water. But I put down a seven and took off a point for flat taste and moved on to the next bottle.

More of the same, although I did think I detected a subtle difference. Was it bouquet? Or just my imagination? I penciled in another seven and poured from the next unlabeled bottle.

Did I detect a metallic taste on this one? Give it a five.


Chlorine. Auuugh. Put it down for a four and hope it's not what they're pumping into my neighborhood. Now my taste buds are on full alert and I'm beginning to think this tasting stuff isn't so tough after all.

By the time I'm through the line of 10 assorted bottles, jugs and jars, I'm anxious to compare notes.

My personal favorite, Entry No. 92, turned out to be last on Woolf's rankings. Yet it headed Gibbons' list and ended up finishing third overall.

Surprisingly, all of us judges agreed that our least favorite water came from the artesian well at Eighth South and Fifth East in Salt Lake City - the same one so many people swear by and stand in line on the weekends to fill their bottles from because it's so chic.

For the record, while every city and town likes to think it has the best-tasting water around, the official unofficial taste-test winners were:

1. Salt Lake County Water Conservancy District's 1800 E. Creek Road Well.

2. Sandy City's Pepperwood Well.

3. Murray City's McGhie Springs.

Moral: There's no judging for taste - especially if you're judging water.