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Ranking of US Cities Based on the Quality of Tap Water

Written by:
George Simms
Plumber & Contractor

US cities have access to some of the safest water supplies in the world. More than 90% of US residents source their water from community systems. These systems are regulated by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) rules

Some states administer even stricter standards. While high levels are maintained nationally, contamination can easily occur, compromising the quality. Sewage, manufacturing, naturally occurring contamination, littering, and other practices can have an effect.

Due to the discrepancies, some cities have superior water supplies in comparison to others. Here’s a look at some of the US cities with the highest quality tap water.

Top Cities in the US Based on the Quality of Water

1. Boston, Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, the water standards are held to some of the highest around the globe. The public water supplies are among the safest and cleanest in the US. Citizens of Boston benefit from their water standards being maintained by the EPA and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). 

As well as the national obligations, MaasDEP requires water suppliers to carry out continuous testing to detect bacteria, lead, heavy metals, herbicides and pesticides, and other industrial solvents. 

If tests determine that the MaasDEP standards aren’t met, the water supplier must declare this information to its customers through local news media. If contaminants are detected at dangerous levels, the water must be treated immediately to remove any bacteria or chemicals. The water supplier will be temporarily shut down if the problem can’t be handled immediately.

"Due to the dual monitoring of high standards combined with the repercussions for failing to adhere to them, Boston has exemplary tap water. "

2. New York City, New York

It may come as a surprise, but New York City has exceptionally clean tap water. Over a billion gallons of water are supplied to NYC every day by the Catskill Aqueduct. Just a couple of hours outside of Manhattan, the Ashokan Reservoir holds fresh, clean water that gradually moves through miles of tunnels before reaching the 8.4 million NYC occupants.

The main reason behind the high quality is the testing. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) orchestrates a comprehensive testing system to ensure New York residents are well served. 

They carry out approximately 27,000 tests monthly, which equates to 330,000 throughout the year, and they take samples from 1,200 different locations.

3. Atlanta, Georgia

It has always been reported that Atlanta has some of the lowest-priced and most affordable water in all of the US. This is a notable positive considering it also has some of the best-treated water in the country. 

Atlanta’s tap water supply is treated at over 400 facilities located at different places around the city. This ensures that chemicals, pollutants, or other possible contaminants are removed before the water is administered to homes and businesses. 

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division maintains water quality through its Quality Assurance Program. This system requires water suppliers in Atlanta to submit quarterly reports to prove that their water is of adequate standards. The reports contain details of chemicals found in the water as well as actions taken to reduce or eliminate them. 

Atlanta mainly sources its tap water from the Chattahoochee River, Lake Lanier, and Lake Allatoona.

4. Seattle, Washington

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) sources quality tap water for its residents. The main source of tap water is Lake Youngs. This is a protected water source that prohibits access to the public. 

All drinking water is treated and tested to ensure high quality. SPU performs testing on multiple samples every day, with results being predominantly safe.

"The SPU also carries out backflow prevention techniques as well as cross-connection control."

5. Austin, Texas

Tap water from Austin Texas is award-winning. It is part of a distinct group of cities awarded the President’s Award from the American Water Works Association for exceptional performance of water treatment plant filters. 

Every year, water suppliers must produce consumer confidence reports (CCR). These are water quality reports that show customers with all necessary information about their water supply, allowing them to discern whether the water is up to standard. 

Austin’s CCRs can confirm that the tap water quality is of the highest standard and meets all the safety requirements outlined by the EPA.

6. Hamilton, Ohio

The water of Hamilton, Ohio, is a multiple award winner of the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting competition. The reason for its great taste is reportedly down to the removal of the smell and taste of chlorine.

Hamilton’s water undergoes extensive treatment to ensure it is of the highest quality. What’s more, the water sources are carefully monitored and inspected to be certain of no contamination. 

The water treatment plant in Hamilton produces around 40 million gallons of water daily. Due to the tap water quality, this output is set to increase over the coming years.

7. Denver, Colorado

Denver government agencies go above and beyond to ensure they deliver high-quality water to 1.5 million people in Denver and the surrounding areas. As well as adhering to the protocols governed by the EPA, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment carries out additional testing on its water. 

Denver Water gathers around 35,000 water samples every year and carries out over 70,000 tests. 

The main consideration for Denver residents is if their home was built before 1951. Buildings before this time were most likely built with lead service lines. Drinking water from lead pipes can cause increased lead levels in your bloodstream.

8. Louisville, Kentucky

Another surprise entry on the list is Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville adheres to the EPA standards and takes additional measures to increase the quality even further. To keep standards high and in accordance with the regulations, Louisville Water Company conducts hundreds of tests every day. 

Louisville water is sourced from the Ohio River. Due to its superior taste, Louisville water has been branded as Louisville pure tap

Future Improvements in Water Quality

If your home city produces quality tap water, it can help save you on your utility bills every year. Even if a city isn’t regarded as having superior water quality, most locations in the US are serviced by safe drinking water. 

Efforts are being made to improve the overall quality of US drinking water through the EPA. For more information on your city’s water supply, check out your local government website.

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About the Author

George Simms is a Salt Lake City based plumber and contractor, with a focus on aiding homes and businesses (particularly farm) solve problems with hard and contaminated water. Walter is here to share his wealth of job experience and a knowledge of both modern and antique plumbing.

Last Updated on December 9, 2021