It can be easy to forget that there’s a long lead-up to turning a faucet on in your home and water coming out of the tap. Whether it’s for filling your water bottle or taking a warm shower, we all mostly assume it’s clean and suitable for consumption. But like any other public utility, the systems used to get it there can differ from place to place, while environmental conditions and disasters can also take their toll. And now, a new study has pinpointed which states can claim to have the cleanest tap water.
To come up with the findings, health information website Great Green Wall Health analyzed data from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to tally how many public water system (PWS) violations each of the 48 contiguous states racked up in 2022. In this case, a violation is defined as a breach of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) requirements. They then calculated the proportion of violations against each state’s population to account for differences in system size, ranking the final results.
According to the company, the topic is one that is becoming more of a concern in the U.S. “In the last decade or so, Americans have had to contend with the water crisis of Flint, Michigan, which has brought the issue of clean tap water to the forefront of conversation,” a spokesperson for Great Green Wall Health said of the results.
So, which places came out on top? Read on to find out the 10 states with the cleanest tap water, according to new data.
- Number of public water system violations per one million residents: 51.75
Bordering the nation’s capital, Maryland and its population of 6,164,660 were able to squeeze into the top 10 with a total of 319 violations.
- Number of public water system violations per one million residents: 49.09
Water probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when people think of the deserts of Nevada. But the state still fared well in the survey, coming in ninth place with 156 violations for its 3,177,772 residents.
- Number of public water system violations per one million residents: 42.69
Tennessee manages to bring relatively clean water to its 7,051,339 residents. The state only counted 301 PWS violations in 2022.
- Number of public water system violations per one million residents: 41.25
Massachusetts may be famous for its beautiful shoreline, boasting plenty of beaches that make it easy to spend the summer enjoying the waves. But data shows the state also has plenty of clean water for drinking, with 288 violations for its 6,981,974 residents.
- Number of public water system violations per one million residents: 39.81
Alabama fared well in the company’s survey: The southern state ranked sixth with 202 violations for 5,074,296 residents.
- Number of public water system violations per one million residents: 39.64
While barely beating out Alabama, Nebraska still has plenty to be proud of when it comes to drinking water. It was the only state in the top 10 to hold fewer than 100 violations, with just 78 for its population of 1,967,923.
- Number of public water system violations per one million residents: 36.56
Besides being the source of the Mississippi River, Minnesota is famously covered with plenty of freshwater lakes. Fortunately, this might benefit its 5,717,184 residents, as the state only clocked 209 PWS violations in 2022.
3. South Carolina
- Number of public water system violations per one million residents: 30.29
South Carolina is one state that’s staying proactive in protecting its drinking water. According to Great Green Wall Health, State Attorney General Alan Wilson recently filed a lawsuit against several companies related to PFAS—which is also known as the forever chemical—that was found in public water systems. Still, the state landed the third spot on the list with 160 violations for 5,282,634 residents.
- Number of public water system violations per one million residents: 27.65
The nation’s most populous state clearly takes clean water seriously. While it clocked more violations than any other in the top 10 with 1,079, it’s in service of 39,029,342 million California residents, putting the number above all but one other state.
- Number of public water system violations per one million residents: 22.16
In the end, Kentucky managed to land the coveted top spot for the cleanest tap water in the U.S.: The Bluegrass State had an even 100 PWS violations for its 4,512,310 residents.
However, Great Green Wall Health points out in its findings that local officials did recently have to address concerns over possible contamination from the devastating train derailment that took place in the town of East Palestine in neighboring Ohio this past February.