Do you live in one of the worst cities in America for water quality?
It’s an important consideration. After all, in the wake of the Flint lead scare, the quality of our drinking water is as hot a topic as it’s ever been.
Our “Top Ten” below ranks some of the worst cities in America for drinking water on the basis of the number of contaminants found to exceed the legal limit and violate MCLs established by the U.S. EPA.
If you're interested in investigating the water quality and health risks in your own neighborhood, SimpleWater provides a free and easy tool for doing so.
Whether you rely on city water or a private well, there are potentially dangerous contaminants in your water that may include — but aren’t limited to:
The first step to fixing these potential issues is acknowledging that there’s a problem in the first place. As it is, many Americans are unaware of the quality of their drinking water. This lack of awareness may be due to a number of factors, including but not limited to: neglecting to observe available water system reports, faulty water test processes, and/or the temporary failure of local water authorities to report violations to state and federal authorities.
So, are you at risk? Without a home water test, that can be difficult to ascertain, but we’re going to take a look below at ten of the cities with the worst drinking water in America, outside of Flint, MI. A cursory overview of the main water issues will be presented so that you’re armed with the facts.
Before we begin, we want to provide a primer on a couple of terms and guidelines used below. When we describe a chemical or group of chemicals that “exceed health limit guidelines,” we’re referring to guidelines established by both federal and state agencies. Chemicals found in these concentrations are not proven to provide a substantial health risk, however. By contrast, any chemical that’s noted as “exceeding the legal limit” refers to those that appear in the water beyond the Maximum Concentration Level (MCL), as established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). At these concentrations, the chemical(s) mentioned pose a known, significant health risk.
North Las Vegas’s water supply is sourced from the Colorado River, but 11 contaminants in the water supply were found to exceed the health limit, including arsenic, lead, and combined uranium.
It’s not all fun and games in Vegas. Water quality data demonstrated that 12 contaminants, including lead and arsenic, exceeded the existing health guidelines, potentially placing some residents at risk for adverse effects arising from their drinking water.
Pensacola stands as one of the worst cities in America with respect to water quality. Testing by the EWG (Environmental Working Group) revealed that 21 harmful contaminants were found to exceed health limit guidelines. Lead, the same contaminant at the heart of the Flint water emergency, was one of these contaminants.
A total of 12 contaminants have been found in quantities within Jacksonville’s water supply that exceed existing health guidelines, including arsenic, lead, and the heavy metal cadmium. Notably, of those 12 contaminants, total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) also exceeded the legal limit, existing in the water at 80 parts per billion (ppb).
Beautiful San Diego is not immune from serious water contamination. Studies conclude that eight contaminants in the city’s water supply exceeded the health guidelines, with two of those — total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and manganese — also in violation of the legal limit, as established by the EPA.
This one-time farming community dating to the pre-Revolutionary War era suffers from a diverse array of contaminant issues. Twenty-two contaminants were found to exceed health guidelines, including chloroform, copper, and arsenic. Additionally, a collection of contaminants arising from mining waste pollutants also exceeded legal limits.
4. Reno, Nevada
Water testing has found that eight contaminants within Reno’s water supply exceeded the EPA’s health limits. Further complicating matters is the fact that three out of those eight are present in the water supply at illegal levels. The top offenders are arsenic, manganese, and tetrachloroethylene.
Eighteen total contaminants exceeded the federal health guidelines in Houston, including arsenic, lead, chloroform, and benzene. Of these, total haloacetic acids (HAAs), gross beta particle activity (from radioactive mineral deposits and/or nuclear testing), and mining waste-related pollutants also exceeded the federal legal limits.
The Home of the College World Series has some marked water quality issues of its own, prompting many residents to turn to home water tests. Arsenic, lead, and 18 other contaminants have all been found in the water at levels beyond the health limit guidelines, and atrazine, nitrate and nitrite, manganese, and total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) also exist beyond the legal limit.
1. Fresno, CA
Fresno struggles on a number of fronts. A total of 19 contaminants were reported to be in violation of established health limits, ranging from manganese to arsenic. Further, eight of the 19 contaminants also violated federal legal limits. These include ethylene dibromide (EDB), manganese, nitrate, combined uranium, aluminum, DBCP, trichloroethylene, and a series of pollutants derived from mining waste.
Concerned over the water quality in your own hometown?
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