Which States Have the Worst Tap Water?
Posted on November 09 2020
According to the CDC, America has one of the safest and cleanest water supplies on the planet. Yet, hardly a day goes by without water quality issues cropping up in the national news cycle.
Millions of Americans in various cities across different states (not just Flint, Michigan) are exposed to unsafe drinking water year after year. Perhaps that’s because every year, from 1982 to 2015, between 9 million and 45 million Americans got their drinking water from a source that violated EPA standards. Or, maybe it’s because state and local water authorities have dramatically underestimated the threat of contaminated tap water across the country. Whatever the case, many county residents are forced to deal with the onslaught of toxic contaminants in their water.
If you’re curious if you live in a state with poor water quality, we’ve gathered a list of states in the US with the worst tap water. Should you see your state on this list, don’t worry or panic. We will include a few safe, reliable, and effective filtration methods you can use to treat your tap water and significantly improve its quality.What makes a state have low-quality water?
Many different factors can contribute to a state’s substandard water quality. One common reason is the deplorable condition of the water infrastructure. For instance, when there’s a leak in a water pipe, the leak creates a vacuum inside the pipe. The vacuum sucks in the untreated water into the pipes, which then combines with the treated water. The water then flows through people’s homes and faucets. Aging pipes can also leach lead, copper, and other heavy metals into the water, bringing dangerous chemicals to your drinking glass.
Another cause of bad-quality tap water is the runoff from agriculture and manufacturing plants. This includes runoff from aut0-industry or coal mining plants leaking into surface waters (rivers, streams, lakes, etc.). While water municipalities may add chlorine to improve the water’s taste and smell, chlorine is not as safe as people think.Who is responsible for monitoring tap water quality?
In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to strengthen public health protection against dangerous contaminants in water. This law allows states to set standards for tap water quality, as long as they fall in line with those of the EPA. The EPA standards include water-test scheduling, contaminant limits, and treatment methods each state’s water systems must follow. Local water suppliers within each state conduct testing for SDWA every year. After the tests, all community water providers must issue a report to residents.States with the Worst Tap Water in the US
While some states go above and beyond to ensure safe drinking water for residents, others settle for water that meets the minimum requirement of being drinkable. Here are ten American states with the worse tap water.1. Washington
Known for its varied climate and beautiful scenery, Washington has one of the most contaminated water supplies in the US. The state’s water contamination threats are diverse. Apart from its growing population hiking up pollution and adding more pressure on surface water and groundwater sources, other factors contributing to its dreadful water quality include low pH, low levels of dissolved oxygen, storm water runoff, warm water temperatures, toxins, and bacteria.
The biggest culprit among them is storm water runoff, which is rain and snow melts that run off surfaces, such as roofs, paved streets, highways, parking lots, etc. As water runs off these surfaces, it can pick up contaminants like animal waste, pesticides, fertilizers, oil, and microplastics. A handful of other contaminants polluting the state’s water include arsenic, uranium, nitrate, radon, radium, chromium, and chloroform. Besides, one or more of these contaminants have been detected at levels above the national safety standards. Worse, some of them are carcinogens (cancer-causing agents), and may also lead to developmental issues, reproductive problems, and liver damage.
Almost three million Washington residents, or over 40 percent of the state’s population, were served unsafe water in 2015.2. California
California is home to warm vineyards, beautiful sunsets, and golden poppies that bloom in wild fields each Spring. But regrettably, California also suffers from highly contaminated water.
Many of the state’s rural farming communities consume water from heavily-tainted sources with arsenic and uranium. When combined with toxic nitrate and nitrite levels from agricultural use, the pollution level is high enough to cause cancer and other adverse health conditions. Sadly, children, pregnant women, and the elderly are the most vulnerable.
In 2015, 2.57 million Californian residents received water from water systems that violated the SDWA, affecting over 832 communities statewide. California’s low-grade drinking water affects mostly its low-income and rural communities. But even if you live in urban areas, err on the side of caution when it comes to your water quality. While California has begun taking action, it may take decades to resolve its many drinking water challenges.3. Arizona
Arizona is widely reputed for its hot low-level deserts covered with cacti and creosote bushes. Located in the western US, the state has a severe water scarcity problem, growing even scarcer each day. But water shortage isn’t the state’s only problem.
Arizona’s tap water is also one of the most dangerous across the nation. Recent reports show that Phoenix’s tap water has the highest average levels of chromium-6, a known carcinogen, in the US. Other toxins linked to cancer and development issues, such as perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), also contaminate the state’s water systems.
Furthermore, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reported that in 2015, Arizona recorded 2,362 violations of the SDWA. Consequently, over 2.46 million residents (36 percent of the state’s population) received contaminated water through their pipes.4. Florida
From the sunny weather to amazing theme parks, there are plenty of reasons to live in Florida. But if you’re looking to have the highest-quality water running through your pipes, you might want to unpack your luggage right away.
Florida’s poor tap water results from two ecological emergencies that occurred in the state in 2018. During that year, red tide microorganisms drifted into the Gulf of Mexico, and blue-green algae overflowed into lakes, rivers, and the ocean. The double eco-disasters killed massive amounts of marine life and shifted attention to the state’s waters. Florida also experienced an overabundance of fertilizer and other pollutants due to the freshwater algal blooms. Plus, hurricanes and storms caused floods that leached many dangerous contaminants into the water systems, further affecting the state’s drinking water. In some regions across Florida, high counts of coliform bacteria from human waste and unsafe lead and copper levels were reported.
During the 2015 water contamination scandal, a staggering 7.5 million Floridians were supplied water from systems that breached the SDWA.5. New Jersey
New Jersey is considered one of the best states to live, work, and play in America. There, you’ll find some of the best healthcare, education, and industrial facilities in the country. However, when it comes to gaining access to safe, clean drinking water, that’s a whole different story.
PFCs and other highly toxic synthetic chemicals used in the state’s industrial facilities lingered in its waters for years. These chemicals are used for their water, grease, and heat-resistant properties. However, researchers have discovered that they can be dangerous.
Although companies and manufacturers are phasing PFCs out of production, the chemicals persist in water systems today. These chemicals are linked to cancer, liver damage, and birth and developmental defects. Worse, estimates show that one in five New Jersey residents regularly drink PFCs-tainted water. Other contaminants include lead and chlorine, which exposed over half of New Jersey’s population to unsafe water.6. Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania, aka “The Keystone State,” boasts lush forests, rolling hills, and millions of acres of farmland. It may seem like an ideal place to settle to the casual observer with its rich history and flourishing job market, but the state has a long history of water pollution.
Coal mining was the main offender responsible for the state’s water pollution crisis. A recent study revealed that 20,000 miles of streams in the state do not meet federal standards for fishing and swimming. On top of that, over 200,000 abandoned gas and oil wells regularly overflow, leaching contaminants into the groundwater and surface waters during hard rainfall.
Nearly six million Pennsylvanian residents are supplied with unsafe water. But while state authorities introduced and enforced new policies, nothing much has changed for many small communities.7. Georgia
If you’re ever looking for sunny days and an unlimited supply of pecans, peanuts, and Vidalia onions, Georgia is the place to be – assuming you can overlook the state’s awful water quality.
Georgia’s drinking water is some of the nation’s worst. This is mainly due to its polluted rivers, streams, and wells. In some areas of the “Peach State,” chromium, arsenic, chloroform, radium, bromate, chlorate, and radium levels are reported well above legal guidelines. Trihalomethanes (THMs), linked to skin cancer, bladder cancer, and fetal development issues, were also detected in some water systems.8. Puerto Rico
A trip to Puerto Rico introduces you to a world of colorful colonial charisma, where American and Spanish influences combine to offer a cultural Caribbean paradise. One minute you’re sticking your toes into the pure white sands, and the next, you’re probably downing contaminants from a drinking-water glass.
Since hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the island in 2017, living conditions have changed for the worse. The storms wreaked havoc throughout the island, shutting down infrastructure and tourism for months. Even today, the island has yet to recover fully. Electrical outages and unreliable generators have caused a lack of running water, and when it does run, it is discolored and full of sediment. In response, the government has urged residents to boil their water for three minutes before use.
But even before the hurricanes, nearly all of Puerto Rico’s water supplies violated safety standards. In 2015, the NRDC reported that 3.46 million Puerto Rico residents (99.5 percent of its total population) received unsafe water through their taps.9. Texas
Texas, also known as the “Lone Star State,” is famous for its BBQ, live music, hot temperatures – and woeful water quality.
The most contaminated water systems are located in the state’s small rural communities where resources are scarce, and populations are usually around 100 people per provider. Some of the most dangerous pollutants tainting the water supply are arsenic, lead, and radiation, partly due to old pipes and contaminants leaching into waterways.
Shockingly, about 12.07 million Texans are served with unsafe water, and the quality doesn’t seem to be improving. According to recent reports, Texas has the country’s most radiated drinking water.10. Ohio
While Ohio is one of America’s largest industrial centers, it is home to some of its worst drinking water.
The large-scale industrial operations across the state have contributed significantly to high levels of lead in its tap water, leading to brief shutdowns of schools and businesses. Many Ohio residents are still served water tainted with iron, sulfate, and other mineral compounds.
Like some other states, many Texans (2.96 million, to be exact) received contaminated water from community systems, putting over 25 percent of the state’s population at risk.What to do if you live in a state with poor tap water
Whether or not your state is on this list, there still could be harmful contaminants in your water. Here’s some good news: If you live in a state with poor tap water, investing in a high-quality water filtration system can significantly improve your water quality and ease your frustration. And remember, there are several benefits to drinking filtered tap water instead of bottled water.
Filtering your tap water at home can remove dangerous contaminants, protecting you and your family’s health and extending the lifespan of your water-using appliances, pipes, fixtures, and plumbing system. If you wish to filter your water, taking the water assessment at smartwater.club is a great place to start. The assessment leverages local water data to provide you with an readable, in-depth analysis of your home's water quality. You can also send samples of your water to Smart Water Club for testing.
You can use the test results from Smart Water Club to get a better idea of the contaminants possibly present in your water. Once you know what contaminants are found in your drinking water, you can use this helpful guide to help you choose a water filter for your specific needs and budget.
If you want to filter the water at every faucet in your home, consider installing a whole-house water system, like the Smart Water Club Whole House Neutralizing Carbon Filter. However, if you only need filtered water at a specific tap, an under-sink filter can be an easy and quick option to get safe, clean, healthy water.
We must also note that even if your state has the cleanest and safest tap water in America, unseen, toxic contaminants may still linger in the water. To learn more about Smart Water Club's unique, reliable, and affordable filtration systems and how they can help improve the safety and taste of your drinking water, visit Smart Water Club Collections today.Final Thoughts
Americans are said to get some of the safest and cleanest tap water worldwide. Still, millions of residents across different states are exposed to unsafe water every year. Whether or not you live in a state with unclean water (such as those on this list), it’s still important to test your water for possible contaminants and install a quality water filter if necessary. Smart Water Club offers an impressive line of robust, reliable, and budget-friendly water filtration systems to eliminate harmful contaminants from your water supply, so you and your family can enjoy clean, healthy, contaminant-free water.