Public Water Quality Standards: The Best and Worst States

In 1908 Jersey City, New Jersey, was the first city in the United States to disinfect community drinking water on a regulated basis. Thousands of cities and towns followed suit. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this created a decline in the spread of diseases across the country.

Life-threatening diseases, such as typhoid and cholera, dropped at surprising rates. For example, in 1900, there were 100 cases of typhoid fever per 100,000 people, states the CDC. But, by 1920, this number lowered to 33.8. The reason for such improvements is the implementation of water sanitation in many populated cities during this period.

Since then, the water quality standards for our country have changed. There are now regulations in place to ensure safe drinking water is available for all citizens.

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Find out which states have the best and worst drinking water!

A Brief History of Water Quality Standards Across America

The rate of disease-related sickness and death decreased in our country with the introduction of chlorinated drinking water. It wasn’t the concerns over human health problems that spurred communities to begin chlorinating our water.

Instead, the trend of chlorinated drinking water boosted poor health conditions in our nation’s animals.

The Quest to Alter Unsafe Water Conditions Begins

When workers noticed the livestock in Chicago’s Union Stockyards were not gaining weight in the summer of 1908, they knew something needed to happen. They suspected unsanitary drinking water supplied by a nearby creek might be at fault for the animals’ weight loss.

When the animals got Chicago city water, their health improved and they gained weight. Unfortunately, it was against the law for stockyards to supply city water to animals. When the stockyards ignored this law, city officials filed a lawsuit against them.

Still, knowing they must not give up if they wanted their livestock to thrive, they turned to George A. Johnson of the New York firm Hering and Fuller.

The Discovery of Water Chlorination Shows Promise

The creek water supplied to the animals contained harmful gases. This resulted from human waste and other contaminants.

Johnson found that the water’s filter system not only failed at the source, but bacteria was multiplying after it the drawing process. By the time it reached the livestock, the water was unsanitary, he concluded.

He decided to test a germicide known as “chloride of lime” to see if it could help purify the stockyard’s water supply.

The chlorine solution not only improved the water, it actually resulted in cleaner water than the city’s drinking supply.

Jersey City is First to Try Chlorinated Water

Days after discovering the benefits of chlorination, Jersey City tried chlorinating their city’s drinking water.

Like many places, Jersey City’s drinking water was unhealthy. The spread of typhoid fever made them desperate for a cleaner water supply. So, when the news about Chicago stockyard’s water went public, they followed suit.

Although the citizens fought for expensive water treatment plants, when the city refused, they found a cheaper way.

An advisor to the local water company, Dr. Leal, began testing methods to clean the city’s water. He believed using the same method Johnson had used on the Chicago livestock would work.

Together, Johnson and Leal formed a plan to provide Jersey City with chlorinated water. Their efforts were successful, according to a report by the Water Quality and Health Council. Eventually, others would begin offering their citizens cleaner water using this method as well.

Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974

Although most states and localities had adopted cleaner water practices by the 1970’s, the nation’s drinking water was still not federally regulated. Even today, you may be at risk for ingesting toxins found in drinking water.

In 1914, the United States Public Health Service began protecting interstate waters but had not yet involved themselves with drinking water.

In 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act passed to ensure citizens’ access to clean water. The Safe Drinking Water Act covered public water sources. It did little for those who depended on private wells or other private sources for their drinking water.

The Safe Drinking Water Act appointed the EPA to oversee public “community sources” of drinking water. A public “community source,” according to the EPA, is a water source that provides 25 or more people with drinking water at least 60 days out of the year.

Contaminated Water Continues to Be a Problem in the U.S.

An article by USA Today, updated in 2016, reports that the EPA continues to fail small communities. The article accuses the organization of overlooking safe water standards for these areas. The report found that 2,000 small community public drinking water sources contaminated with lead from 2012 to 2015, based on an ongoing investigation.

Following the release of the report, the EPA acknowledged the daunting task they face in regulating the water in small communities. They claimed that many of these communities are incapable of the required practices to provide acceptable drinking water to their citizens.

In 1998, the Consumer Confidence Rule passed. This rule required the EPA to release Consumer Confidence Reports annually to anyone connected to public water. These reports detail the conditions of local public water systems.

In recent years, the EPA admits that only 90% of public water systems are in compliance with standards for non-contaminated drinking water.

Do You Know if Your Drinking Water is Safe?

Most of the nation’s population now has access to safe drinking water. There are still many citizens who depend on contaminated sources for their water supply, however.

Have you ever wondered if the water you drink is safe?

There are many people who have never found out if the water they ingest on a daily basis is safe to drink. You shouldn’t have to wonder if your water is safe. So, we’ve searched the nation to find the safest and least safe drinking water in the country.

These Towns Have the Safest Drinking Water in the U.S.

Here are the towns where you can drink water right out of the tap and never have to worry about a thing.

1. New York City

More than one billion gallons of water travels over one hundred twenty-five miles off of the Catskill Mountains to the people of New York City. This is according to the Huffington Post’s list of towns in America with the purest tap water.

2. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

You won’t find any lead in the waters of Milwaukee. This Wisconsin city promises citizens who live and work here that the water they drink is safe and clean.

3. Denver, Colorado

Denver all the water quality standards and has never been in violation of any regulations for the condition of their water. Folks from Denver drink clean, crisp mountain-fed water from the Rockies.

4. Hamilton, Ohio

According to Time Magazine, Hamilton, Ohio takes the prize for the purest water in the United States.

5. Tulsa, Oklahoma

In 2016, the water quality report found Tulsa’s drinking water to be completely free of bacteria and safe for everyone to drink. It’s also claimed a spot in the top 25 taste test for the best tasting drinking water in America, according to The Active Times.

America’s Worst Towns for Drinking Water

Most places in America have water that is safe for drinking according to acceptable water quality standards. But, there are some places in the U.S. where water should come with a warning.

If you live in the following towns, think twice before drinking the water:

1. Pensacola, Florida

Out of the chemicals tested, 45 were present in Pensacola’s water over a five year period, according to NBC News. Worse still, almost half of the chemicals discovered were at unhealthy amounts.

2. Fresno, California

Fresno found 19 contaminants present in their drinking water in 2017. These included many above federal limits according to Simple Water. Arsenic is one of the contaminants that made the list.

3. Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas is famous for many things, including their sub-par drinking water. AOL News names Sin City as number 3 on their list of places with the worst water quality standards. This is partly because of the 30 contaminants found present.

4. Riverside, California

Riverside’s drinking water is drawn from the Bay Delta. Unfortunately, it’s been named as one of the country’s worst towns to drink the water. Their low ranking is due to violations of health guidelines and legal limitations of contaminants.

5. Brady, Texas

Texans are fond of the phrase “Don’t mess with Texas”.

Well, if you happen to visit Brady, Texas, we have some advice: Don’t mess with their water.

According to a report by Vice, the Environmental Working Group found that 22 million people have radium in their drinking water.

Make Sure the Water You Drink is Clean!

If you don’t want to risk drinking contaminated water, we can help.

Our filters meet top-notch water quality standards so you can feel confident that your water is clean and free of hazardous contaminants.

Visit our blog to find out why you should make the switch to filtered water today!

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