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U.S. Cities With The Worst Drinking Water

U.S. Cities With The Worst Drinking Water

by Andrew Ciccone September 04, 2019

Millions of Americans are exposed to unsafe drinking water every year. Cities across the U.S. have identified unsafe levels of drinking water in Flint, Milwaukee, Newark, Newburgh and many more towns. The contaminated water is causing unknown harm to our citizens and our children. 

Many cities report that their tap water has high levels of lead, nitrates, arsenic or other pollutants. Today, as it stands many communities simply have no way of knowing if their tap water is safe or contaminated. As there is no testing or monitoring that takes place.

The effects of the toxic substances that have leached into water supplies in major cities from chemicals spills has yet to be realized. Every year from 1982 to 2015, between 9 million and 45 million Americans Got their drinking water from a source that violated the standards of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

Here are the top ten cities whose drinking water is the worst: 

ONE. Brady, TX | Radium Levels In Drinking Water Dangerously Unsafe - Texas has the most widespread water violations in the US, due in large part to the presence of radium — a radioactive substance that's been linked to bone cancer — in its water supply.

Brady, Texas has radium levels that are nine times higher than the EPA limit. The tap water can be orange, brown, or even green in color. 

TWO. Newburgh, NY | PFOS Water Contamination State Of Emergency - In 2016 Newburgh’s water supply tested positive for a dangerous pollutant called perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), which has been linked to cancer and chronic kidney disease. Studies conducted in 2016 determined Washington Lake was contaminated by PFOS runoff from firefighting foam used at the Stewart Air National Guard Base.

Newburgh’s drinking water contamination was caused by the discharge of toxic chemicals located nearby at the Stewart Air National Guard Air Base. The Army Corps of Engineers, an agency under the Department of Defense will install a $2.4 million system to filter the discharges from the Stewart Air National Guard Base that are laced with toxic PFAS chemicals that have contaminated the local water supply.

THREE. Flint, MI | Officials Still Unsure If The Water Is Safe - Flint residents are still concerned about whether their tap water is contaminated. Michigan congressman Dan Kildee (2017) has said that the city can't trust its water supply until all of the lead service pipes had been replaced. Flint is currently working to replace its old pipes by 2020. 

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FOUR. Charleston, WV | Massive Industrial Chemical Spill Contaminates Water Supply - In 2014, a massive spill of Methylcyclohexane Methanol MCHM leached into the water table in Charleston, WV. The chemical became airborne, if inhaled or should it come in contact with skin, it could cause vomiting or irritation such as itching or burning.

As late as 2017, a nonprofit Environmental Working Group found multiple contaminants in the city's water supply.

FIVE. Puerto Rico | Drinking Water Violates Federal Standards - Hurricane Maria  wreaked massive damage through the island, shutting down infrastructure for months. Even before the hurricanes, nearly all of Puerto Rico’s water violated federal standards. In 2015, the NRDC reported that 3.46 million Puerto Rico residents were served with unsafe water — 99.5 percent of its total population.

Clean potable drinking water is a problem.  Illnesses related to contaminated drinking water have dramatically affected the health and mortality in Puerto Rico. Waterborne diseases present a significant health risk to a large segment of the population.

SIX. Dos Palos, CA | Excessive Groundwater Pumping is Poisoning the Water Supply - California has a statewide water sanitation problem prompted by excessive groundwater pumping that leached toxic levels of arsenic into the water supply. Residents of Dos Palos have switched over to bottled water after it was discovered that their water supply contained trihalomethanes, a group of chemicals that's been linked to kidney problems and increased cancer risk.

SEVEN. Newark, NJ | Lead-Contaminated Drinking Water Has Reached Crisis Levels - From July 2018 to December 2018, Newark's water system showed lead levels above the EPA's safety threshold. High levels of haloacetic acids (HAAs) have been reported, which form during the water disinfection process. HAAs cause skin irritation, and potentially increase cancer risk. 

Tens of thousands of water filters are being distributed to local residents while Newark works to replace its lead service lines.  

EIGHT. Pittsburgh, PA | Lead-Contaminated Drinking Water  - Environmental regulators discovered low levels of chlorine in the Pittsburgh water system (2017). Basic activities such as brushing teeth or washing dishes should be done with boiled water, as a parasite called giardia could cause diarrhea, cramps and nausea. 

Also that year, the EPA reported that high levels of lead was found in the drinking water.

NINE. Sebring, OH | Unsafe Levels Of Lead In Drinking Water - In 2016, the town of Sebring discovered unsafe levels of lead were found in the water system. In addition to the lead contamination, decades of unregulated mining has created unsafe drinking water containing high levels of iron, sulfate, or other mineral compounds.  

TEN. Milwaukee, WI | Elevated Levels Of Lead In Drinking Water - It is reported that health officials may have failed to warn families that their drinking water was not. Children tested positive for high levels of lead from 2015 to 2017. Environmental activists in 2018 called upon Milwaukee's mayor, Tom Barrett, to resign over the crisis. 

The Safe Drinking Water Act defines the term "contaminant" as meaning any physical, chemical, biological, or radiological substance or matter in water. Drinking water may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that the water poses a health risk.

Don’t assume your water is safe, take steps to ensure your water is clean:

  1. Have your water tested. Don’t assume your tap water is safe. Take action today to support water quality monitoring in your community by contacting your local government officials and ask them to support water monitoring legislation in your community.
  2. Invest in a water filtration system. You can avoid most toxins and contaminants with a high-quality water filter. The best and most practical way to reduce pollution in your drinking water is through a carbon block filtration system. 
  3. Contact The EPA to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem. 


Andrew Ciccone
Andrew Ciccone


Andrew Ciccone, VP Branding & Media Strategy - Andrew's long strange marketing trip began after graduating from Syracuse University with a BS in Marketing. Andrew then developed his marketing prowess when he moved to Madison Avenue big boys Young & Rubicam, Backer Spielvogel, and Grey Advertising. He went on to get a Masters in Corporate Communications from Baruch College, then went on to start his own agency in 2011 - Hudson Valley Public Relations. Andrew has earned a reputation for creative, smart, innovative campaigns that get results. Andrew's spare time is devoted to sailing regattas, family fun and film. To date he has penned four screenplays.

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