Skip to content

Best and Worst USA Regions for Water Quality

When it comes to water quality, America is thought to be the best. However, an award-winning research firm known as SimpleWater, began investigating water quality in different areas of the United States. In 2017, the firm found many more areas with poor water quality than Flint, Michigan.

We look at the regions where water quality has dropped significantly, whether due to a water plant leak or the lack of proper infrastructure to treat water properly.

Areas in US with Terrible Water Quality

From dangerous metals in the drinking water to historical chemical dumping near drinking wells, some areas of the US have been plagued by poor water quality for decades. Here is a look at the worst places to live for water quality.

Navajo Reservations in New Mexico

While Native Americans enjoy sovereignty in certain areas of the United States, that hasn’t stopped companies from violating their lands by extracting uranium, coal, and gold. Considerable waste has been generated by this mining activity and led to contamination in their most crucial waterways and wells.

Federal assistance hasn’t come yet to help this water problem, but grassroots non-profit organizations are trying to help the issue. The Navajo Water Utility Authority and DigDeep have been trying to clean up these contaminated waters for many years, but still the water quality is not close to clean.

Michigan Water Quality and Flint’s Problem

For many years, we heard on the news how Flint, Michigan had been suffering with the worst water quality. The city’s water was contaminated with lead and undrinkable. The city may be recovering now with new infrastructure, but there are still homes that continue to have contaminated drinking water. In addition, state and federal programs were extremely slow to fix the problem, leaving the residents with undrinkable water for many years.

Flint isn’t the only area in Michigan with contaminated water quality problems. From the southwest corner of Michigan to Arenac county off Saginaw Bay, Michigan has reports of arsenic, lead, and VOCs in many counties across the state.

Northern Florida

There are a few communities in Florida that have some of the worst water quality in the country. For example, in Jacksonville, pesticides and fertilizers have contaminated tap water. Recent tests found that tap water in Jacksonville had at least 12 contaminants, including arsenic, cadmium, lead, and trihalomethanes.

Nothing has been done about this contaminated drinking water in north Florida. It continues to be a problem that Floridians have had to deal with on their own.

Nevada’s Dirty Water Problem

Nevada has also become one of the states with the worst water quality. From Las Vegas to Reno, there are have been reports of dirty drinking water for years. Reno’s water supply was tested and contained 11 different contaminants including arsenic, tetrachloroethylene, and manganese.

Las Vegas may be known as a tourist destination for people who love the bright lights, big city, but it’s also known for having some of the worst drinking water in all of America. In fact, a recent study found 23 contaminants in Sin City’s drinking water, including uranium, lead, and arsenic.

Other Areas with Poor Water Quality in US

A few other states have contaminated water to look out for, including:


Lake Michigan has recently been found to contain large amounts of lead, which is a result from a decrepit municipal plumbing system dating back to early 20th century. The Milwaukee area also has a high quantity of chromium 6 in drinking water, as well as disinfection by-products or DBPs. These are considered emerging contaminants and are not fully regulated by the EPA. However, they are still dangerous.


Multiple areas of Texas have been found to have poor water quality. From Midland to Houston to Brady, these areas have the highest contamination in the state. In fact, Midland is ranked as the second worst water quality in the entire country.

North California

California is home to the worst city with a contained water supply. Fresno has been tested as having the most contaminants in their drinking water. However, Modesto also landed on the worst water quality list after it was found to have widespread contamination from agricultural chemicals.