How Clean is Your Tap Water?

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In December, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its list of the cities with the best and worst tap water. This wasn’t merely a taste test (tastes like chicken!). For three years, the EWG measured all kinds of things in municipal water systems. In fact, they discovered that in the United States, 316 different pollutants were found in drinking water nation-wide. The pollutants generally come from five sources: industrial waste (asbestos, lead, etc.), agricultural waste (fertilizers, pesticides, etc.), urban waste (butane, caffeine, etc.), water treatment facilities themselves (chlorine, formaldehyde, etc.), and naturally occurring pollutants (aluminum, copper, etc.).

Mmm, who’s thirsty?!

Some of these pollutants aren’t thoroughly regulated, which means they are technically “allowed” to exist in our water supplies – but that shouldn’t comfort you. It’s really more of a matter of them not being regulated yet. Other pollutants are regulated but an excess amount of them were still found in drinking water. In all, since 2004, 256 million Americans received tap water that contained unregulated chemicals and pollutants and / or water with excessive amounts of regulated pollutants. Ugh.

So, which cities have it o.k. and which cities have it really, really bad? Here’s the list of the best and worst tap water in the country:

Cities with the best water:

1. Arlington, TX
2. Providence, RI
3. Fort Worth, TX
4. Charleston, SC
5. Boston, MA
6. Honolulu, HI
7. Austin, TX
8. Fairfax County, VA
9. St. Louis, MO
10. Minneapolis, MN

Cities with the worst water:

1. Pensacola, FL
2. Riverside, CA
3. Las Vegas, NV
4. Riverside County, CA
5. Reno, NV
6. Houston, TX
7. Omaha, NE
8. North Las Vegas, NV
9. San Diego, CA (yikes!)
10. Jacksonville, FL

Is your city not listed? You can find out exactly how your water rates and what was found in it by going to’s What’s In Your Water and entering your zip code. Good luck!

So, thoroughly grossed out? Wondering what to do next?

A Brita Aqualux Water Pitcher is dandy for cleaning much of what’s in your drinking water, but those who are in particularly nasty water areas of the country wouldn’t be faulted for becoming more “H2Obsessed.” After all, that water is getting used not just for drinking, but cooking, washing fruits and vegetables, bathing, brushing teeth, wet t-shirt contests, etc. If you’re hoping to have cleaner water for many of those things, you might consider getting a 5 Stage Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System With Storage Tank. Or if you’re really feeling terrified, maybe getting an installed home water distiller is an only mildly crazy option. A water distillation tank takes the water coming into your home, heats it and collects the steam. This steam condenses into purified water that then gets used in your home. The larger versions will distill about 12 gallons of water a day and store 25 gallons max.  This will set you back about $1300. If your home’s water needs aren’t as demanding, you can go as small as an eight gallon tank for $900. Keep in mind it takes energy to heat the water, so expect higher bills if you install a water distiller (plus maybe some bad global warming Karma). Oh, and you might even be able to convert it to make moonshine, but definitely don’t quote us on that.

We’re not health or water experts – but we do care about what comes into our homes. Do some research for yourself and let us know if you’ve come up with other water solutions!

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About Jen

Jen (but never “Jenn”) Byck, aka the Fix'n Vixen, is a Toronto-based freelance writer and communication consultant who is undoubtedly home fixated (she is also TV fixated, really bad TV fixated and donut fixated). Her approach to home improvement has been rather trial and error, the latter of which is evidenced by the amount of spackle she buys on an annual basis.

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1 thought on “How Clean is Your Tap Water?”

  1. 3 spots from CA in the worst list. Score! That’s because there’s no natural water here in the south. We import our water from the north and it’s Very hard. Despite all this, it’s important to keep one point in perspective. That is, we have clean “enough” water to drink without worrying about getting a disease and dying, which is more than what 1.1 Billion people in the world have. Crazy right? Here’s the wiki link for further reading:


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