States With The Worst Tap Water- 2024 Edition

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Millions of people drink water everyday, but is your water truly safe to drink? 

While crises like those in Flint, Michigan, and Jackson, Mississippi, receive significant media attention, it is important to remember that other cities and states face similar challenges with their water quality posing threats to public health.

The majority of the U.S. population relies on municipal water, so it’s crucial to recognize that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency that sets the standards for tap water, only regulates a fraction of potential contaminants. Furthermore, those federal standards far exceed the recommended safe levels established by researchers at the Environmental Working Group (EWG). 

Even though tap water is treated before making its way to your tap, water quality can greatly vary from state to state, and even city to city.

Our Methodology

There is no standardized approach or method for determining water quality across states and therefore, states are not listed in a definitive order.

Above all, we strive to remain objective while presenting factual information sourced from the EPA, EWG, and various studies and tests.    

Regardless of whether your state appears on this list, proactive measures are essential to safeguarding yourself and your loved ones from exposure to chemicals, metals, and other toxins in your water.

For more information about your water quality, explore our tap water database for a current water report on the contaminants in your area and get personalized product recommendations so you can always trust your water.

Who Has the Worst Tap Water in the United States?

10.  Georgia 

More than 800 water supplies are serving over 9 million residents with concerning levels of bromodichloromethane, total trihalomethanes (TTHM), and chloroform, among other harmful toxins, in their water.

9.  New Jersey 

  • The EPA released results from a new round of national testing for toxic “forever chemicals” in public water utilities. They found 29 variations of PFAS in utilities across the state, some at levels that far exceed new EPA limits if they are finalized. 

  • Reportedly, chromium 6 has affected more than 7.5 million residents. 

  • Utilities in New Jersey also tested high for chloroform (5 million residents affected) and arsenic (3.2 million residents affected).

Hundreds of utilities in the state have been found to exceed EWG health guidelines for at least 10 contaminants.

8.  North Carolina 

  • 57 systems in North Carolina reported PFAS contamination in their water supply, with 11 systems not in compliance with the EPA’s proposed standards 

  • A new study revealed that North Carolina is among the top states with the most toxic tap water due to companies dumping chemicals and other hazardous waste into their water source for decades. 

  • TTHM and uranium have been detected in the state at levels far above the legal limits, and nearly a thousand utilities have been found to be contaminated at levels above EWG health guidelines

7.  Washington

  • Toxic “forever chemicals” have been found in water utilities across the state; tests from the Department of Defense found PFAS in 866 private drinking water wells

  • In a 2023 settlement, Washington state dairies have to find alternative sources of clean drinking water for residents while remediating excess nitrate and ammonia contamination due to decades of waste from dairy operations.

  • Millions of residents are served drinking water that contains alarming concentrations of TTHMs, bromodichloromethane, chromium 6, HAA5s, and many other toxins.

6. Ohio 

Chemical plants and other companies have been discharging toxic chemicals and substances (including PFAS) into the Ohio River for decades

5.  Texas 

4.  Michigan 

  • The Great Lakes holds 90% of freshwater in the U.S. and provides drinking water to over 40 million people, yet 90% of water samples showed unsafe levels of microplastic pollution. 

  • All fish caught in Michigan rivers showed levels of 14 different PFAS compounds. The chemicals are thought to be polluting drinking water for more than 200 million people.

  • Michigan accounts for 3.28% of the country’s lead pipes, which is the major cause of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan in recent years.

3.  Illinois 

  • A study by the EPA found that Illinois is the state with the second highest amount of lead pipes, with 1.04 million lead pipes and accounting for 11.35% of the country’s total. 

  • Recent test results revealed lead in amounts far exceeding the federal standards in Chicago homes. 

  • A Chicago Tribune investigation found that more than 8 million residents get their drinking water from a utility where PFAS has been detected, with some cities showing contamination at levels up to 1,800 times higher than the latest federal health advisory.

  • Over 12 million residents are served contaminated water at levels much higher than the proposed limits to protect human health.

2.  California 

1.  Florida 

  • Florida leads the country with the most amount of lead pipes – a new study from the EPA estimated that there are 1.16 million lead pipes in use in the state, ​​accounting for 12.6% of the country’s total. 

  • Florida, particularly Miami, also has the second highest levels of PFAS in its tap water in the country. 

  • Millions of people are being served water with many contaminants above the EPA legal limits, not to mention the contaminants found in thousands of water utilities that exceed the EWG health guidelines.

Bottled Water is Not An Alternative

While bottled water may seem like the simplest solution when it comes to contaminated tap water, the unexpected truth is that oftentimes bottled water is just as dirty as tap. Interestingly enough, bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rather than the EPA. Generally speaking, FDA regulations for bottled water match EPA standards for public water supplies, so bottled water does not guarantee a higher water quality. 

Beyond the fact that bottled water is oftentimes tap water repackaged for general consumption, the actual plastic bottles can leach microplastic into the water, rendering it an ineffective alternative for clean drinking water. Tap here to learn more about the dangers of plastic water bottles.

The Best Way to Protect Yourself From Dirty Water

Although water standards vary from state to state, the best way to ensure that you are drinking the safest and cleanest water possible is by investing in a water filter that can target these contaminants. Clearly Filtered’s water filtration systems are proven to protect you from up to 99.99% of 365+ contaminants. View our lab test results and upgrade your water to protect your health and safety.


1. Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ found in drinking water across Georgia

2. Neighbors in Hahira cope with concerning water quality; leaders address issues

3. Georgia

4. EPA finds more ‘forever chemicals’ in New Jersey water systems

5. New Jersey

6. More NC utilities are detecting PFAS in drinking water, but some aren’t telling their customers

7. North Carolina and Iowa drinking water is worst for 'forever chemicals' after industrial waste was dumped into rivers for DECADES: Toxins are up to 46,000 times higher than EPA limit

8. North Carolina

9. Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ discovered in drinking water all over Washington

10. Washington State Dairies Agree to Clean Up Groundwater in Response to Lawsuit

11. Washington

12. 7th Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment April 2023

13. PFAS detected in 15 local public water systems over proposed EPA guidelines

14. DuPont, Chemours and Corteva will pay Ohio $110 million in settlement over “forever” chemicals

15. Texas’ water infrastructure is broken, jeopardizing quality and supply for a growing state

16. 90% of Great Lakes water samples have unsafe microplastic levels – report

17. Revealed: the ‘shocking’ levels of toxic lead in Chicago tap water

18. More than 8 million Illinoisans get drinking water from a utility where forever chemicals have been detected, Tribune investigation finds

19. Illinois

20. Risk of tap water exposure to toxic PFAS chemicals higher in Southern California,by%20the%20U.S.%20Geological%20Survey.

21. Californians suing state over contaminated groundwater

22. California

23. Florida

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