In recent years Flint, Michigan, has become known for having unsafe drinking water. But do they have the worst tap water in the U.S.? Where does it fall among cities with the worst public tap water? For that matter, where does your location fall among cities with the worst drinking water in the United States? Here is a top 15 breakdown of the worst drinking water quality ranking by city in the United States.
15. and 14. Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas takes up two spots in our list because both Las Vegas proper and adjoining North Las Vegas have suboptimal tap water quality, with contaminants like arsenic, lead and even uranium appearing in North Las Vegas sinks. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that as many as nine contaminants — chloroform and radium included — could potentially pop up in your Las Vegas water glass.
13. Haworth Borough, New Jersey
If you ever find yourself in this unassuming former farming community, bring your own water. Studies have found 12 contaminants in excess of health guidelines, along with excessive mining waste pollution and 29 total contaminants of concern.
12. Pensacola, Florida
If the idea of nine contaminants in your drinking water has you running for a sealed plastic bottle, stay away from Pensacola in sunny Florida, where the EWG found 27 harmful contaminants in excess of health limit guidelines.
11. Jacksonville, Florida
The poor water standards in the land of oranges don’t end with Pensacola, unfortunately. Jacksonville’s water has been known to feature unwanted metal ingredients like cadmium and lead, with three contaminant levels exceeding recommended health limits and 23 total contaminants presenting concerns. This water has also been found to have 60.3 parts per billion total trihalomethanes — cancer-causing contaminants — which is 402-times higher than EWG’s guidelines.
10. Brady, Texas
The drinking water in Brady, Texas, may have lower overall contaminant levels than some of the cities on this list, with 11 contaminant levels exceeding recommended health limits and 19 posing concerns overall.
But Brady contains Texas’s highest levels of radium. Much of Texas’s drinking water contains radium, while levels in Brady are twice as high as the legal limit deemed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The city’s seven wells source their water from the Hickory Aquifer, which contains naturally radioactive sandstones.
The city of Brady regularly communicates to its residents that the quality of the local tap water does not constitute an emergency and residents can safely consume it without risk of acute illness. But it also addresses that, over time, the tap water may increase their risk of developing cancer.
9. San Diego, California
San Diego is one of the most beautiful cities in America, but that doesn’t mean the water is safe to drink. Studies have found 13 contaminants with concentrations exceeding recommended health limits and 26 total contaminants of concern.
8. Houston, Texas
In addition to 13 contaminants in excess of health guidelines, Houston water also features particles produced by nuclear testing or radioactive mineral deposits. The tap water in this Texas city includes illegal levels of mining waste pollution, including haloacetic acids, as well.
7. Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha’s water quality is among the lowest, with 13 contaminants beyond health limit guidelines and total trihalomethanes 241-times over EWG’s guidelines. Overall, 25 contaminants present concerns.
6. Fresno, California
This city calls itself “the best little city in the U.S.A.,” but don’t understand that to include its tap water quality. Fresno water features 13 contaminants with concentrations exceeding recommended health limits and a total of 40 contaminants of concern.
5. Reno, Nevada
The “biggest little city” in the world has a big water contamination problem, with levels of arsenic, manganese and tetrachloroethylene in the water exceeding legal EPA limits. The drinking water in Reno and nearby Sparks contains 14 contaminants with concentrations exceeding acceptable health limits and 31 total contaminants of concern.
4. Modesto, California
The drinking water in Modesto, California, contains 15 contaminants with levels exceeding health guidelines and a total of 23 contaminants of potential health concern. The city also sits near numerous manufacturing and agricultural operations that may leak harmful chemicals into nearby water sources. Arsenic is a particular challenge — arsenic levels in Modesto’s water are 1,692 times higher than the EWG’s recommended health guideline.
3. Pasadena, California
Sunny Pasadena may attract tourists looking for beautiful clear Southern California weather, but its water quality is murky. Pasadena’s drinking water contains 16 contaminants with levels exceeding health guidelines, as well as 32 overall that pose possible health concerns. The EWG also reports Pasadena’s water supply contains 160 times its guidelines for bromochloroacetic acid, a potential carcinogen.
2. Lubbock, Texas
Several Texas towns have high levels of contaminants in their water, Lubbock included. Lubbock’s drinking water contains 16 contaminants with levels above acceptable health limits, as well as 30 contaminants of potential concern. Arsenic levels, while within legal limits, are nearly 600 times over the recommended health limits.
1. Midland, Texas
Midland’s drinking water contains 16 contaminants with levels above acceptable health limits, as well as 30 contaminants of potential concern. The arsenic level exceeds the legal limit, and the total trihalomethanes exceed 270 times the recommended health limit. Midland is also near dozens of manufacturing facilities and several agricultural operations that may spill chemicals into the local water supply.
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