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Over 300 Pollutants in U.S. Tap Water


December 2009

Since 2004, testing by water utilities has found pollutants in the tap water Americans drink, according to an Environmental Working Group (EWG) drinking water quality analysis of almost 20 million records obtained from state water officials.

More than half of the chemicals detected are not subject to health or safety regulations and can legally be present in any amount. The federal government does have health guidelines for others, but 49 of these contaminants have been found in one place or another at levels above those guidelines, polluting the tap water for 53.6 million Americans. The government has not set a single new drinking water standard since 2001.

Water utilities spend 19 times more on water treatment chemicals every year than the federal government invests in protecting lakes and rivers from pollution in the first place.

Based on these data, EWG believes the federal government has a responsibility to do a national assessment of drinking water quality. It should establish new safety standards, set priorities for pollution prevention projects, and tell consumers about the full range of pollutants in their water.

Because it has not, EWG launched a 3-year project to create the largest drinking water quality database in existence. This user-friendly, interactive resource covers 48,000 communities in -1 states and the District of Columbia.

Archived Ranking for 2009

Cities with the Best Water


EWG rated big city (population over 250,000) water utilities based on three factors: the total number of chemicals detected since 2004; the percentage of chemicals found of those tested; and the highest average level for an individual pollutant, relative to legal limits or national average amounts, including for the most common pollutants (disinfection byproducts, nitrate and arsenic). [read more on rating methodology]

Since EWG's tap water database was published in December 2009, we have received new water test results from several utilities. The database and our city-by-city water quality rankings will be updated in the near future.

EWG's Top-Rated and Lowest-Rated Water Utilities - 2009

TOP RATED WATER UTILITIES  LOWEST RATED WATER UTILITIES
1
Arlington, TX
Arlington Water Utilities
100
Pensacola, FL
Emerald Coast Water Utility
2
Providence, RI
Providence Water
99
Riverside, CA
City of Riverside Public Utilities
3
Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth Water Department
98
Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Valley Water District
4
Charleston, SC
Charleston Water System
97
Riverside County, CA
Eastern Municipal Water District
5
Boston, MA
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority
96
Reno, NV
Truckee Meadows Water Authority
6
Honolulu, HI
Board of Water Supply
(Honolulu/Windward/Pearl Harbor)
95
Houston, TX
City of Houston Public Works
7
Austin, TX
Austin Water Utility
94
Omaha, NE
Metropolitan Utilities District
8
Fairfax County, VA
Fairfax Water
93
North Las Vegas, NV
City of North Las Vegas Utilities Department
9
St. Louis, MO
City of St. Louis Water Division
92
San Diego, CA
San Diego Water Department
10
Minneapolis, MN
City of Minneapolis Water Department
91
Jacksonville, FL
JEA

See all cities

EWG's Top-Rated and Lowest-Rated Water Utilities [PDF] - Image [JPG]