The States With the Best Tap Water (and What to Do If Your State Has the Worst)

To some people, all—or at least most—drinking water tastes the same. Others have a more discerning palette, can can taste differences in tap water outside of their local area. There are several reasons for the varying flavor profiles, including the water’s mineral content, as well as its quality.

In a report published on June 30, 2023, experts at J.D. Power provided an in-depth look at the country’s water quality, determining which states have the best—and worst—tap water. Here’s what to know about the rankings, and what to do if your state is at the bottom.

The states with the best tap water

In order to rank the quality of the tap water in each state, the team at J.D. Power analyzed feedback from customers of water utilities regarding their tap water’s quality, reliability, and a few other factors. From there, they used the data to assign each state (plus Washington, D.C.) a score of between 100 and 1,000, with 1,000 considered a perfect score.

Here are the top 10 states, along with their score out of 1,000:

  1. Kentucky: 808
  2. Washington (state): 808
  3. New York: 801
  4. Oregon: 796
  5. Kansas: 795
  6. Massachusetts: 793
  7. Connecticut: 789
  8. Minnesota: 788
  9. Virginia: 785
  10. Hawaii: 782

The states with the worst tap water

On the other end of the spectrum, these 10 states have the worst tap water in the country:

  1. Alabama: 701
  2. Maryland: 721
  3. Oklahoma: 726
  4. New Mexico: 731
  5. Texas: 737
  6. Pennsylvania: 748
  7. Ohio: 748
  8. Mississippi: 750
  9. Arizona: 750
  10. Indiana: 756

How to improve tap water quality

If you’re interested in improving the quality of your tap water, you have a few of options. First, if you have any concerns about its safety, it’s best to get it tested. Contact your local health department to see whether they have free kits available, or will come to your home to test your water for you.

The simplest and most common way to improve your tap water is to use some kind of filter. Carbon filters (like the ones in Brita pitchers) remove contaminants like chlorine, asbestos, lead, and mercury from your water, while water softeners cut down on the minerals that build up in your pipes, like calcium, magnesium, barium, and radium. Finally, reverse osmosis filters block contaminants like arsenic, fluoride, hexavalent chromium, nitrates, and perchlorate.

You can read more about water filters and other ways to improve the quality of your tap water on the Environmental Working Group’s website.


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