Here’s How Experts Ranked Tap Water Quality Across The U.S.

While many places across the United States are lucky enough to have clean drinking water, not all tap water is created equal. Factors such as the surrounding environment, old pipes, and clean water laws will affect a place’s ability to drink from the tap safely.

Keep reading to learn which places have the best and which have the worst tap water quality.

Best: Rhode Island

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Jacek Dylag/Unsplash
Jacek Dylag/Unsplash

Even though it is densely populated, Rhode Island is an environmentally conscious state and takes great pride in having clean drinking water for its residents.

According to the State of Rhode Island Department of Health, “Rhode Island tap water undergoes rigorous and frequent testing to maintain the high standards required by the Safe Drinking Water Act.”

Worst: Arizona

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Autri Taheri/Unsplash
Autri Taheri/Unsplash

Arizona has some of the worst quality drinking water in the country. So much so that it is recommended that people get some sort of filtration system, so they don’t wind up with long-term health issues from drinking the tap.

Sadly, there are contaminants in Arizona’s water supply, such as chromium-6 particles, which can cause stomach cancer, skin burns, and pneumonia.

Best: South Dakota

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Giorgio Trovato/Unsplash
Giorgio Trovato/Unsplash

South Dakota has a great track record of safe and good-tasting drinking water, having won the Drinking Water Excellence award for 16 years straight.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the state’s water is well within the guidelines for safe consumption of lead, copper, nitrates, arsenic, radium, and uranium.

Worst: Florida

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Bluewater Sweden/Unsplash
Bluewater Sweden/Unsplash

Unfortunately, Florida’s landscape, and the fact that toxic blue-green algae and red tide microorganisms make their way into the water, doesn’t make for a great tap. Those aren’t the only things affecting the water supply, though.

Due to the number of hurricanes Florida faces each year, fertilizer and other contaminants runoff into the local water supplies.

Best: Mountain Towns In California

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Sven Mieke/Unsplash
Sven Mieke/Unsplash

California is made up of a lot of different communities. The ones with this best tap water are located close to the mountains. With freshwater coming straight from the source, it is some of the best water in the entire state.

Also, it lacks the contaminates that the more rural and farming lands deal with.

Worst: New Jersey

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Mrjn Photography/Unsplash
Mrjn Photography/Unsplash

While New Jersey locals might say differently, the state’s tap water isn’t the best or safest to drink in the country.

It might be “legal” to drink from the tap, but a 2018 report by OrbMedia found that a lot of the pipes expelling the water were leaching lead into the supply.

Best: Connecticut

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Bluewater Sweden/Unsplash
Bluewater Sweden/Unsplash

Connecticut is only one of two states that does not allow wastewater discharge in the water supply, meaning it is one of the safest states to drink directly from then tap.

According to EWG’s Tap Water Database, there are numerous laws in place to ensure nothing leaches into the water, safeguarding public health.

Worst: Washington

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Damir Spanic/Unsplash
Damir Spanic/Unsplash

In various places across the state of Washington, tap water is full of contaminants that are unsafe to consume. Some of these chemicals include arsenic, chloroform, chromium, uranium, and radon.

According to a 2018 report conducted by the Environmental Working Group, “six cancerogenic contaminants above health guidelines were found in “Seattle Public Utilities” water.”

Best: Massachusetts

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Engin Akyurt/Unsplash
Engin Akyurt/Unsplash

Massachusetts has some of the strictest water testing standards in the country, allowing the state to have some of the best and cleanest drinking water. The forests throughout the state are also well protected, allowing naturally clean water to filter down into the treatment plants.

There is a reason the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority won “Best Tasting Water” in 2014!

Worst: Texas

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Engin Akyurt/Unsplash
Engin Akyurt/Unsplash

While not all of Texas is affected by unclean drinking water, the rural parts of the state don’t have the best-tasting tap. Smaller towns in the state tend to have older lead pipes, resulting in the metal leaking into the water supply.

There have also been tests showing traces of other heavy metals and radiation.

Best: Vermont

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Bit Cloud/Unsplash
Bit Cloud/Unsplash

The water systems throughout Vermont are highly regulated. The Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Division implement and regulate the state’s Water Supply Rule.

This rule states: “The purpose of this rule is to protect the public health by assuring safe, affordable drinking water from Public and Non-Public Water systems, and to implement and enforce the provisions of the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act and Vermont statutes.”

Worst: New Mexico

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Unsplash/Troy Spoelma
Unsplash/Troy Spoelma

Sadly, the water quality in desert lands of New Mexico is not great, especially in some of the larger cities.

According to a 2021 report from the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Company, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “While [Albuquerque’s] drinking water meets USEPA’s standard for arsenic, it does contain low levels of arsenic. USEPA’s standard balances the current understanding of arsenic’s possible health effects against the costs of removing arsenic from drinking water.”

Best: Minnesota

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Daniel Hooper/Unsplash
Daniel Hooper/Unsplash

Protected by numerous clean water acts allows Minnesota to have some of the best quality tap water in the country. According to the Minneapolis Health Department, over 500 tests are done daily to ensure water quality is safe and tasty for people to consume.

The department also stresses how the state’s water is economical since most people prefer to drink the tap instead of purchasing plastic water bottles.

Worst: Pennsylvania

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LuAnn Hunt/Unsplash
LuAnn Hunt/Unsplash

Pennsylvania’s history of coal mining does not help its present-day water quality. Since coal mining was a huge industry in the state, much of the environment has become polluted, including the rivers and lakes.

On top of that, multiple abandoned oil and gas facilities leak chemicals into the groundwater. It is not ideal for drinking.

Best: Kansas

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Andres Siimon/Unsplash
Andres Siimon/Unsplash

With the water standards and regulations set down by the Kansas Health Department, the state has some of the best drinking water in the country.

According to a 2020 report conducted by KC Water, “KC Water produced an average of 90 million gallons of drinking water per day, enough water to fill approximately 136 Olympic-sized swimming pools each day.” Emporia, Kansas, even won the Best Tap Water award.

Worst: Rural California

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Universal Eye/Unsplash
Universal Eye/Unsplash

Some of the worst tap water in the country is found in rural California. While the mountain water is nice and fresh, rural California finds its water laced with harsh chemicals used by farmers.

These chemicals leach into the groundwater, and the result is bad-tasting tap water that isn’t necessarily great to drink.

Best: New Hampshire

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Quokkabottles/Unsplash
Quokkabottles/Unsplash

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has very strict guidelines when it comes to testing the state’s clean water supply.

In fact, New Hampshire is one of the few states in the country that requires testing for PFAS, a toxic chemical that can have fatal consequences if ingested.

Worst: Ohio

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Alexandre Lacocq/Unsplash
Alexandre Lacocq/Unsplash

Sadly, Ohio has some of the worst quality drinking water in the country. Due to old pipes, lead makes its way into several water supplies throughout the state. And no one should drink water with high levels of lead.

According to a report done in 2015, “Ohio ranks as one of the worst states for [untested or contaminated systems] offenses.”

Best: Oregon

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Kate Joie/Unsplash
Kate Joie/Unsplash

According to residents in Oregon, the tap water throughout the state are incredible, particularly the mountain towns such as Bend. There, fresh mountain water is brought straight down to cleaning facilities and dispersed into households.

This is one place where plastic water bottles and BRITAs are in very short supply!

Worst: Georgia

The Environmental Protection Agency and CDC agree that Georgia has one of the worst public water supplies in the country. With polluted rivers, streams, and wells, numerous metals, chemicals, and other contaminants leach into the water.

According to the two agencies, “contaminants such as microplastics are not regulated, and others such as lead and disinfection by-products can often be found locally in the household.”