What City in the U.S. has the Worst Tap Water?

September 29, 2021

What City in the U.S. has the Worst Tap Water?

Worst tap water in the U.S. isn’t a distinction any city wants. Unfortunately, there are quite a few cities contending for the title. Whether it’s high lead content, chemical contamination or eroding infrastructure, the water in some cities is downright dangerous to drink without proper treatment!

Are you wondering which city in the U.S. has the worst tap water? Here’s a look at where you’ll find unsafe water—and where residents need to consider investing in a water purification system to safeguard themselves.

The other important question is, what are these cities doing to improve the water quality for their residents?

  1. Fresno, CA. While many cities in California have bad tap water, Fresno stands alone as having the worst in the state. In a 2017 report SimpleWater— a science and health services organization founded at the University of California, Berkeley—Fresno’s water tested dangerously high for 19 waterborne contaminants, including arsenic, ethylene dibromide, manganese, nitrate and many others. Residents of Fresno are strongly encouraged to invest in water purification systems while the city works to reduce these levels by introducing more purification processes.
  2. Pittsburgh, PA. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Pittsburgh's tap water has exceeded the EPA's lead regulations since the summer of 2016. The city has worked diligently to replace lead pipes for years, but it’s still very behind, which has spiked lead-related health conditions in the city, including high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease and reduced fertility.
  3. Flint, MI. There’s no surprise here. Flint has been in the headlines for years, and become the poster child for municipal water contamination. While fracking has amplified the city’s water crises, the true underlying problem for many years has been dangerous lead content. The city is working hard to replace the old lead pipes, but government officials say individual homes throughout the city are still likely to experience high levels of contamination.
  4. Brady, TX. Radium is a radioactive carcinogen, and, unfortunately, radium contamination affects much of the drinking water in Texas’ large and small cities—home to about 22 million Texans. In Brady, Texas, radium levels in the tap water are up to nine times higher than the legal limit. The water in Brady is so contaminated, it’s been known to run yellow and orange! In order to address this, the city of Brady has undertaken a massive, twenty-seven-million-dollar water system improvement project to purify the water of these radioactive elements, and dispense it cleanly throughout the city. 
  5. Milwaukee, WI. Milwaukee collects its water from the fresh waters of nearby Lake Michigan. Unfortunately, the city has a history of lead contamination in its drinking water. Its aging municipal plumbing system is largely to blame. However, Milwaukee's water also reportedly has high concentrations of chromium-6 and high levels of disinfection byproducts, signaling other contamination issues. Milwaukee has established a dedicated clean water advisory council to monitor the conditions, and enact changes to prevent contamination.
  6. Pensacola, FL. Some water analysts say that Pensacola has the most unsafe drinking water in the U.S. Scientists found 45 contaminants in Pensacola’s water, and 21 were discovered in unhealthy quantities. The worst chemicals were radium-228, trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, alpha particles, benzine and lead. This menagerie of unsafe contaminants has pushed many to invest in water purification systems. The city is currently working to improve purification methods in water treatment plants, to ensure that these contaminants do not make their way to homeowners.
  7. Las Vegas, NV. Sin City has sinfully bad tap water. Las Vegas’ and North Las Vegas’ tap water was found to have 23 contaminants—nine of which were above healthy limits. While that might pale in comparison to contamination found in other cities’ tap water, a few of these contaminants include arsenic, lead and uranium: the worst of the worst. If you’re headed to Vegas or currently live there, water purification is a must.

So, which city in the U.S. has the worst tap water? It’s not impossible to give a definitive answer as water quality levels change frequently. What we do know is that these cities listed above perpetually crack the top spot. If you live in any of these areas—or another city with poor water quality—make sure you’re doing right by your health and wellness when it comes to water purification.

Aquaspace® is here to help, with point-of-use and whole-home water purification systems to help safeguard you from contaminated drinking water. 

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