Traveling? Here Are the Top Cities With the Poorest Water Quality


Americans love to travel. There are hundreds of beautiful sites, exciting adventures, beaches, mountains, and roads to explore across the U.S. that attract people from around the world. But wherever your travels take you, no matter what sites you see, one thing is for sure: you will need to drink water on your journey.

Our bodies require water to survive, so wherever you live or wherever you’re traveling, it’s important to know how safe the water in the area is. While many of us are confident that the water quality in the U.S. is high, you may be surprised to learn that there are many cities in this country that do not have great water quality. The city that gets the most attention for having poor water quality may be Flint, MI, but they are far from being the only ones that struggle with contaminants in their water, and lead isn’t the only contaminant that people should worry about.

Before you book your next vacation, check out this list of the top cities with the poorest water quality, and partner with Aquagenuity for water quality testing and monitoring services.

Cities With the Worst Water Quality

Miami, Florida

Even big cities like Miami can face water quality problems, and the particular type of issue they’re struggling with may be around for thousands of years. Tap water in Miami was found to contain PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. These are man-made chemicals that include PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid) and PFOS (Perfluorooctane Sulfonate). These chemicals have been manufactured in the U.S. since the 1940s, and traces can be found in:

  • Food that was contained in packaging or made with equipment that contained PFAS.
  • Household products like Teflon, waxes, and paints.
  • Workplaces like production facilities.
  • Fish, animals, and humans typically where a certain type of facility is located, such as a landfill or wastewater treatment plant.
  • Drinking water where levels of PFAS have been allowed to build over time.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently tested water in 44 cities and found that Miami had one of the highest concentrations of PFAS: 57 parts per trillion. The EPA recommends that drinking water contain no more than 70 parts per trillion; however, EWG suggests a limit of only one part per trillion.

PFAS have been shown to cause cancer, thyroid hormone disruption, low infant birth weight, and have effects on the immune system. The particular problem with these chemicals is that they resist breaking down in the environment or the human body, so they can linger for thousands of years, which gives them the nickname “forever chemicals.”

Newburgh, New York

About two hours north of Manhattan, Newburgh had a scare in 2016 when the state tested a reservoir for the pollutant PFOS. Over two decades prior, the New York Air National Guard spilled fire-fighting foam into a stream that is connected to the reservoir. Fire-fighting foam contains PFOS. The city declared a state of emergency and installed a filtration system to clean the water. However, because this chemical can remain in the environment for a very long time, residents are still concerned that the only way to mitigate the problem is to thoroughly clean the reservoir.

Baltimore, Maryland

The Baltimore Sun reported in 2016 that water samples in the area contained high levels of lead. Of the 52 samples, two were found to contain 27 and 35 parts per billion; 15 parts per million is when action needs to be taken to clean the water or improve the water delivery system. Aside from the water testing positive for lead, Druid Lake reservoir also contains particles that can carry viruses, bacteria, and parasites.

Dos Palos, California

California has been hard hit by environmental changes, which has caused many cities in Central Valley to excessively pump groundwater from dried up wells, including Dos Palos. This has resulted in the water being contaminated with toxic levels of arsenic. After testing the city’s water quality, it was found to contain trihalomethanes, which are used as solvents and refrigerants. Trihalomethanes are considered carcinogenic and have also been linked with kidney problems. 38 of California’s 58 counties violate state water standards, and the city wel in Dos Palos has failed 22 safety tests between 2013 and 2018.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

This industrial city is facing two major water quality issues: chlorine and lead. In 2017, Pennsylvania’s environmental regulators found levels of chlorine in the water, which caused the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority to send out a warning to residents. Households were told to boil tap water before using it, even for activities like brushing their teeth and washing dishes. With levels of chlorine in water, it could expose people to the parasite giardia, which causes diarrhea, cramps, and nausea. Even though the level of lead in Pittsburgh’s water has been dropping, plumbing and service lines have caused health concerns for the city.

Travel With Confidence With Aquagenuity’s Water Monitoring Solutions

Imagine if you could have access to a city’s water quality data at your fingertips. Simply enter in a zip code and information will pop up about the city’s arsenic levels, nitrate, TTHM (total trihalomethanes), uranium, and more. You can safely travel without worrying about how safe the tap water is or if you should buy bottled water. Imagine if you’re moving to a new city, having information about local school water quality. This type of information can greatly impact the decisions you make and the long-term health of yourself and family.

Aquagenuity is working to build a network of water quality data, and we need your help! If you’re concerned about the water quality in your area, or just want to have peace of mind knowing that your family’s health is safe, order a home water test kit today. The test will analyze your water for lead, copper, arsenic, hardness, and much more. And this data can be used to educate the community and the nation about our country’s water quality. There are numerous cities that have poor water quality, but together, we can help everyone have access to water data in order to make informed decisions.

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