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U.S. Cities with the Worst Drinking Water

September 9, 2014

U.S. Cities with the Worst DrinkingNot all cities’ drinking water is equal. In fact, many major U.S cities have drinking water that contains unhealthy levels of chemicals and contaminants. Some of the levels of chemicals in some cities’ water even exceed limits set by the EPA. Drinking water always has some levels of potentially harmful chemicals and other contaminants, and municipal water companies tend to specify the concentrations of these in water reports to customers. The presence of chemicals that lack safety standards for drinking water and government regulation, however, are most disconcerting. Often, large metro areas are the ones with the highest concentrations of chemicals and contaminants that exceed legal limits and health guidelines for safe drinking water. Here is a look at some of the top U.S cities with the worst drinking water.


San Diego, CA



San Diego is the 8th largest city in the U.S and one of the largest in California–a state whose water supplies are increasingly strained due to persistent drought. California’s Department of Public Health listed San Diego’s drinking water as containing 8 chemicals exceeding health guidelines, with 2 exceeding the EPA’s legal limit. An additional 20 contaminants have been reported in San Diego’s drinking water supply, some of these hazardous industrial byproducts are poisonous to humans in high enough quantities.


Las Vegas, NV



As a city that has an abundance of water concerns, Las Vegas adds a wide range of contaminants to the drinking water supply to that list. Located in the Mojave desert, Las Vegas relies on miles of intake pipes to supply the city with water from the Colorado River. Numerous chemical pollutants have been identified in some quantity in the Las Vegas water supply. These include a dozen identified to exceed the EPA’s health guidelines, such as radium, arsenic, and lead.


Houston, TX


Houston draws its drinking water from the Trinity River, San Jacinto River, and Lake Houston and, as one of the largest cities in the U.S, its water routinely contains chemicals exceeding federal and state health guidelines. 46 different pollutants have been detected in the city’s water, and compared to the national average of 8, this is concerning. The water in Houston has been found to have a variety of disinfection byproducts and even illegal levels of alpha particles, a type of radiation.


Riverside, CA



This California city ranks as one of the worst for municipal water. The city gets most of its drinking water from groundwater supplies and 15 chemicals that exceeded health guidelines and legal standards have been detected in the water. The water has been consistently contaminated with alpha particles and traces of uranium, making the water especially unhealthy.


Pensacola, FL


Pensacola is located on the Florida panhandle and consistently ranks as the city with some of the worst water in the U.S. 45 of 101 tested chemicals were found in the drinking water supply. 21 of these were found to be present in unhealthy amounts. Radium, alpha particles, benzene, lead, cyanide, and chloroform were some of the worst chemicals found in the water supply. This degree of contamination makes Pensacola’s water some of the most contaminated and unhealthy for consumption in the U.S.