The 25 U.S. Cities with the Worst Drinking Water

WHERE THE CONTAMINANTS ARE FLOWING STRAIGHT FROM THE TAP.

In 2017, it’s not unusual to have a personal preference for water. Maybe you like a light mineral flavor or a mild earthiness. Or maybe you prefer sparkling. Whatever the case, chances are you don’t want anything that includes chemicals or carcinogens—the types of contaminants included in the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule.”

While most municipal water sources in America have sterling track records of filtering out such nasty stuff, not all cities are great in this regard. Herewith, we’ve compiled the worst of the worst of the 200 largest cities in America. (Note the “largest;” hence no Flint, Michigan.) So read on to learn about the places where you may want to buy your own filter. And for the best of the best when it comes to tap water, check out the 25 Cities in America with the Best Drinking Water. 

Our Methodology: Our data includes areas with “pollution potential,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the number of contaminants (such as chloroform, bromate, or trichloroacetic acid—all found to cause cancer) found in the local water, according to the Environmental Working Group. The “Dirty Water Score” was determined by calculating the number of contaminants found in the water of the city’s largest water utility, with greater weight given to those that exceeded the EWG’s health guidelines (established by a federal or state public health authority).

25
Reno, NV

Number of Contaminants: 11
Other Detected Contaminants: 14
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:46
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 46
Dirty Water Score: 57.42

24
Pomona, CA

Number of Contaminants: 10
Other Detected Contaminants: 18
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:11
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 1
Dirty Water Score: 56.73

23
Corona, CA

Number of Contaminants: 12
Other Detected Contaminants: 13
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:11
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 1
Dirty Water Score: 56.70

22
Arlington, TX

Number of Contaminants: 9
Other Detected Contaminants: 21
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:30
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 6
Dirty Water Score: 56.01

21
Bakersfield, CA

Number of Contaminants: 6
Other Detected Contaminants: 29
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:11
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 1
Dirty Water Score: 55.79

20
Fresno, CA

Number of Contaminants: 9
Other Detected Contaminants: 22
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:11
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 1
Dirty Water Score: 55.25

19
Irvine, CA

Number of Contaminants: 11
Other Detected Contaminants: 17
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:11
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 1
Dirty Water Score: 55.22

18
Grand Prairie, TX

Number of Contaminants: 9
Other Detected Contaminants: 22
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:30
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 6
Dirty Water Score: 55.01

17
Corpus Christi, TX

Number of Contaminants: 11
Other Detected Contaminants: 17
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:30
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 6
Dirty Water Score: 54.98

16
Fort Worth, TX

Number of Contaminants: 10
Other Detected Contaminants: 20
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:30
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 6
Dirty Water Score: 54.49

15
Amarillo, TX

Number of Contaminants: 11
Other Detected Contaminants: 18
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:30
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 6
Dirty Water Score: 53.98

14
Rockford, IL

Number of Contaminants: 12
Other Detected Contaminants: 17
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:10
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 2
Dirty Water Score: 52.70

13
Brownsville, TX

Number of Contaminants: 12
Other Detected Contaminants: 17
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:30
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 6
Dirty Water Score: 52.46

12
McKinney, TX

Number of Contaminants: 11
Other Detected Contaminants: 20
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:30
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 6
Dirty Water Score: 51.98

11
El Paso, TX

Number of Contaminants: 10
Other Detected Contaminants: 23
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:30
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 6
Dirty Water Score: 51.49

10
Dallas, TX

Number of Contaminants: 10
Other Detected Contaminants: 23
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:30
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 6
Dirty Water Score: 51.49

9
McAllen, TX

Number of Contaminants: 12
Other Detected Contaminants: 18
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:30
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 6
Dirty Water Score: 51.46

8
Lubbock, TX

Number of Contaminants: 12
Other Detected Contaminants: 18
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:30
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 6
Dirty Water Score: 51.46

7
Frisco, TX

Number of Contaminants: 11
Other Detected Contaminants: 21
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:30
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 6
Dirty Water Score: 50.98

6
Plano, TX

Number of Contaminants: 11
Other Detected Contaminants: 21
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:30
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 6
Dirty Water Score: 50.98

5
Pasadena, CA

Number of Contaminants: 14
Other Detected Contaminants: 14
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:11
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 1
Dirty Water Score: 50.67

4
Irving, TX

Number of Contaminants: 10
Other Detected Contaminants: 24
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:30
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 6
Dirty Water Score: 50.49

3
Garland, TX

Number of Contaminants: 11
Other Detected Contaminants: 22
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:30
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 6
Dirty Water Score: 49.98

2
Midland, TX

Number of Contaminants: 13
Other Detected Contaminants: 17
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:30
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 6
Dirty Water Score: 49.95

1
Modesto, CA

Number of Contaminants: 13
Other Detected Contaminants: 20
Rank of Number of Manufacturing Establishments/Sq. Mile:11
Rank of the total Farm Ag. Chemical Expenses: 1
Dirty Water Score: 47.19

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