Tap water is essential to everyday life for Americans, especially when it’s clean. But do we really know which states have the dirtiest water? Perhaps, you can taste a slight difference in quality of water from state to state. But did you know that drinking the tap water in some U.S. states is actually deemed “not clean or healthy for human consumption”?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in charge of monitoring water quality in the United States. The U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act ensures our drinking water is safe and contaminant-free. Tap water is measured by a point system and a violation record. Points are deducted for each Safe Drinking Water Act violation when measuring water tanks, filtration systems, and pipelines according to Water Defense.
If the tap water in a community becomes too dirty to drink, federal aid may be issued to that area. With that being said, let’s take a look at the best and worst states for drinking water.
So where does Delaware rank?
Well, give or take, it should probably be in the top 10 Worst states for tap water. Delaware is home to many small rivers and streams, as well as factories and slaughterhouses. According to WHYY and the Environmental Integrity Project, “97% of Delaware’s 1,104 miles of assessed waterways are listed as impaired for one or more uses. Delaware’s rivers and streams are contaminated with pollutants such as fecal bacteria, nitrogen and phosphorous, pesticides, PCBs, and dioxins.”
The EIP says this is mainly the result of old farms, slaughterhouses, and factories spraying waste onto the ground and especially corn fields. AS of 2021, tests showed there were 32 contaminants in Delaware’s tap water, 14 of them exceeding health guidelines, as stated by EWG.
Overall, the best practice to ensure your tap water is safe to drink, is to always run a test. Tests can be done when something seems off, from smell, to appearance, to taste. County health departments will test for contaminants in your water most likely, but if not, you can always call 800-426-4791 or visit epa.gov/safewater/labs.