States with the Best Tap Water in the US

Updated July 17th, 2024

Every state has something they’re famous for, whether it’s a natural wonder like the Grand Canyon in Arizona or a popular food like Wisconsin cheese. Some are also known for their own distinct culture, weather conditions, and entertainment hot spots. However, another amazing aspect of a state sometimes lies in the quality of its tap water.

While it’s true that millions of Americans are forced to live with potentially unsafe tap water (especially in low-income and rural locales), some states take pride in ensuring residents and visitors can enjoy clean and crisp water straight from the faucet. This is commendable because safe and readily available drinking water is crucial for public health.

If you’re curious if you live in a state with good-quality tap water, we’ve gathered a list of states with the best tap water in the US and possibly the world. If your state isn’t on this list, don’t worry or panic. We have plenty of safe, reliable, and effective filtration methods to treat your tap water and significantly improve its quality.

What classifies a state as having good-quality water?

The purity of tap water comes down to two things initially – the source and the level of filtration it goes through before reaching our taps. Sure, some states have clean tap water because they have lots of natural sources such as lakes, glaciers, and rivers regularly topped up with fresh rainwater. However, many states often have to do more to ensure their tap water is safe and clean to drink.

To better understand what classifies a state as having superior-quality tap water, let’s explore the various ways public water supplies are contaminated in the first place.

  • Damaged, aging, and neglected water infrastructure: America’s decades-old lead pipes are deteriorating quickly and might be leaching poisonous contaminants into the public water supply. When pipes corrode, their walls become compromised, sometimes causing them to break. Depending on the pipes’ material, harmful contaminants, like heavy metals and other minerals, can dislodge from the walls, travel in the water passing through the pipe, and end up in your drinking glass. Similarly, breakages in the pipe can create vacuums that pull in untreated water containing bacteria, agricultural chemicals, and other unwanted pollutants into the pipe carrying the treated water.
  • Natural disasters and disruption: Natural occurrences like wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and others, can also disrupt water treatment facilities almost instantly, making water unsafe to drink. Water treatment plants can even get struck by lightning or damaged during winter storms, causing blackouts and disrupting the water filtration processes.
  • Runoff: Harmful chemicals from manufacturing and industrial processes, as well as farming and agriculture, can find their way into public water supplies due to runoff caused by rain, flooding, melted snow, and other environmental factors. Examples of this can include runoff from a coal mining plant or auto industry leaking into the state’s rivers. States that receive considerable amounts of rainfall also experience problems due to runoff. This runoff can pick up harmful substances from roofs, streets, and parking lots and carry them through the cleaning stations.
  • Lack of funding: Many municipalities are aware of problems, but the lack of adequate funding to fix them causes water contamination issues to worsen and new ones to crop up. Insufficient funding means people are more likely to be exposed to harmful water contaminants and fall ill due to water-transmitted diseases like diarrhea.
  • Mismanaged water treatment: Various sectors and states often have no proper surface water and groundwater usage guidelines. Besides, new contaminants sometimes emerge from water treatment processes, but the lack of oversight prevents them from being detected before affecting the public.
  • Unregulated chemicals: Hundreds of chemicals are unregulated by federal drinking water standards. Therefore, no laws are preventing them from polluting public water supplies.

States that take pride in having tap water that’s clean and safe to drink often go above and beyond to limit or prevent these factors from impacting the quality of their water supply. These preventative actions may include:

  • Strict drinking water testing and standards;
  • Sufficient funding for water treatment and infrastructure repairs and maintenance;
  • Prevention of groundwater contamination;
  • Proactive protection of wetlands and surface water;
  • Increasing preparations to limit the impact of natural disasters and disruptions on water quality;
  • And many more.

Because these measures are established and enforced in these states, their tap water quality is comparably better than others. When there are fewer possibilities for contamination to occur, the result is usually cleaner and better-tasting water. In these cases, residents and travelers can drink water straight from the tap without ingesting large amounts of potentially harmful chemicals, contaminants, and pathogens and falling victim to waterborne diseases and other related ailments.

Who is responsible for monitoring tap water quality?

In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to strengthen public health protection against dangerous contaminants in water. This law allows states to set standards for tap water quality as long as they align with the EPA’s. The EPA standards include water-test scheduling, contaminant limits, and treatment methods each state’s water systems must follow. Local water suppliers within each state conduct testing for SDWA every year. After the tests, all community water providers must issue a report to residents.

Which States Have the Best Tap Water in the United States?

While some states settle for low-quality tap water that meets the minimum requirement of being drinkable (such as those on our list of States with the Worse Tap Water in the US), some make every effort to ensure safe drinking water for their residents and visitors.

In no particular order, we proudly present the states with some of the best tap water nationwide and perhaps in the world:

1. Oregon

Oregon is considered a great state to live in. After all, it features incredible scenery, endless recreational activities, and, most importantly, superior-quality tap water. Test results show that the state’s water supply is incredibly clean, thanks to most of Portland’s water flowing from the pristine Bull Run Watershed. Test results on the watershed’s two reservoirs indicate considerably low levels of naturally occurring contaminants like giardia and bacteria.

2. Kansas

Kansas is one of the nation’s leading agricultural states, earning the nickname “The Wheat State.” But in addition to its outstanding wheat production, officials across the state also maintain very stringent quality control of their water to guarantee its residents’ safety and health. Mike Tate, Director of the Bureau of Water for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, says roughly 96% of Kansans receive water from public water supplies that meet or exceed all state and federal regulations for clean water. Emporia, a small city in Kansas, has been recognized as having some of the best-tasting water worldwide in a past Berkeley Springs competition.

3. Minnesota

Aside from its vast, modern architecture, including the Twin Cities Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota has some of the cleanest tap water in the United States. This has a lot to do with the Minnesota Department of Health assisting public water suppliers through grants, coordinating training for water operators, and more. These actions seem to have paid off tremendously as Duluth, Minnesota, won the 2013 “Best in Glass” drinking water taste test, which included three other Minnesota cities in the running.

4. Massachusetts

The public water supplies in Massachusetts are among the best nationwide and are subject to the most stringent government standards globally. To ensure a safe tap water supply, both the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) maintain exacting standards. MassDEP requires local water suppliers to perform ongoing tests for the presence of bacteria, lead and other heavy metals, herbicides and pesticides, and industrial solvents. If testing reveals that federal standard has been exceeded, the water supplier must notify customers through local news media. If bacteria or chemicals are found at levels that threaten residents’ health, the water supply is treated to remove the contaminants or taken out of service if the problem can’t be solved immediately.

5. South Dakota

Home to the must-see Mount Rushmore and the Badlands, South Dakota is known for tourism and agriculture but features clean tap water. South Dakota water systems have a dazzling history of high-quality tap water. Also impressive is that the state meets the EPA goal of having 95% of local water users meet all health standards related to tap water. Beyond that, Mid-Dakota received the Secretary’s Award for Drinking Water Excellence for 16 consecutive years providing safe water without a violation.

6. Missouri

Tap water quality throughout Missouri is some of the best, not just in the US but on the planet. This excellent water quality is credited to water providers meeting federal drinking water requirements, strict standards for clean water, etc. Thanks to these and other measures, the city of Independence has been named among the top five best-tasting tap water in the world seven times in eight years at the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting Competition.

7. Connecticut

A trip through Connecticut introduces you to countless lobster shacks, scenic beauty, and a constant supply of high-quality tap water. Yes, the state of Connecticut has some of the cleanest water among all 50 states. A part of the secret behind their outstanding tap water quality is that Connecticut is one of the two states that prohibit discharges from wastewater treatment plants within public water supply watersheds. This means public water supplies have minimal contact with pharmaceuticals and other harmful contaminants.

8. Rhode Island

Known as the world’s sailing capital, Rhode Island is already an exciting place to visit. However, they also provide incredibly high-quality tap water to all their residents. Although it’s a small state, it enjoys abundant water resources. Local state bodies also do an excellent job of carefully monitoring all bodies of water, controlling wastewater discharges, preventing groundwater pollution, and more. According to the Office of Water Resources, over 90% of its groundwater is considered suitable for drinking, thus contributing significantly to the state’s superior tap water quality.

9. New Hampshire

New Hampshire has some of the nation’s strictest water quality standards. It’s no wonder the state’s tap water is so clean and great-tasting. Aside from the numerous other state-level measures enforced across the state, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services proposed new testing for contaminants such as PFAS – the harmful pollutant found in non-stick cookware. These measures enable New Hampshire’s drinking water distribution systems to provide high-quality public drinking water to local communities.

10. Vermont

Vermont isn’t only famous for foods like Vermont cheddar cheese, maple syrup, and the ever-popular Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. The state is also home to some of the cleanest tap water in America. About 70% of Vermont residents get their drinking water from public systems routinely monitored for contamination. Ninety-seven percent of homes connected to these Vermont public systems have water that meets state and federal safe drinking water standards.

Wondering what’s in your tap water?

Public water supplies in America are tested regularly to ensure tap water meets the drinking water standards set by the EPA, state standards, and local regulations. But even if your state made our “Best Tap Water in the US” list, it’s still important to check your water to see if it’s contaminated.

Bear in mind that various factors in your home, such as lead and bacteria in pipes, can leave contaminants in your water. Leaks and water main breaks along the public network can also introduce contaminants and pathogens into the treated water being transported to your home.

Testing your water allows you to detect potential pollutants early on and take action to prevent them from cropping up in your water again and threatening your health, pipes, and appliances.

Here are a few ways to determine your water quality:

Submit water samples for testing.

For thorough testing and accurate results, send a water sample from your tap to a certified water-testing laboratory in your area. For example, when you purchase a water test kit from us, it includes instructions to collect a water sample from your tap and send it to the corresponding laboratory. Once the laboratory receives the water sample, the lab experts conduct several tests on the water sample, looking closely for hard-to-detect chemicals, such as PFCs. They will also check for chlorine, lead, bacteria, pesticides, VOCs, and pH levels. Plus, if you have specific contaminants you want to test for, they’ll test the water for them at your request and provide you with a thorough report on your water quality within two weeks or so.

Test your water at home.

A home water testing kit might be ideal for DIYers. While these kits are less accurate than professional laboratory testing, they can provide vital information about your home’s water quality.

You can purchase kits from various merchants, online or locally, but most work the same. Take a test strip, expose it to the water you want to test, and note the color the strip turns. The kit will come with a color chart matching different tones to different chemicals.

Test your water at least twice to ensure consistent results, then contact your local water provider immediately if any chemical is detected at hazardous concentrations.

Ask your water provider.

Before testing your water at home, contact your local water provider. Ask them for a copy of their latest water quality report. This report usually contains detailed information, such as the specific tests on the water in your area, the date they were performed, and the test results. The test results typically include the levels of common contaminants possibly detected in the water. Contacting your water provider is a smart move. Even if you wish to conduct further tests, knowing what contaminants are possibly present in the water is essential.

What To Do If You Live In A State With Poor-Quality Tap Water

If you live in a state with poor-quality tap water and want to ensure that your water is safe to drink, there’s still hope for clean, great-tasting water. Investing in a high-quality water filtration system is an excellent way to significantly improve your water quality and help ease your worry about possibly getting sick from the water you drink.

whole house water filter system
SpringWell’s Whole House Water Filter + Sediment Filter

Filtering your tap water at home can remove dangerous contaminants, protecting you and your family’s health and extending the lifespan of your water-using appliances, pipes, fixtures, and plumbing system.

If you wish to filter your water, we suggest you start by looking over your water quality report from your local municipality. (Interpreting your city’s water report can be tricky for some people, but we’ve simplified it in this article.) You can also use the test results from the lab or your home testing kit to get a better idea of the contaminants possibly present in your water.

A Quick Note on Bottled Water

When clean drinking water isn’t readily available, many people turn to bottled water. The sad truth is that bottled water can be just as unclean as a contaminated local water supply. Beyond that, the plastic packaging can leach microplastics and chemicals into the water, which can be toxic to your health if ingested. We’ve compiled a list of incredible benefits of using filtered tap water over bottled water in our article 7 Reasons to Choose Filtered Tap Water Over Bottled Water.

The Best Water Filtration System For Cleaner, Better-Tasting Tap Water

Once you know what contaminants are found in your drinking water, installing a reliable water filtration system is the next major step. But what are your options for the best water filter system? We’re happy you asked.

The Springwell CF1 Whole-House Water Filtration System

whole house water filter system
SpringWell’s CF1 Whole House Water Filter System

If you want to filter the water at every faucet in your home, consider installing the Springwell CF1 whole-house water filter system. It uses a four-stage filtering process to capture and remove harmful chemicals and pollutants and eliminate unpleasant odors. And the result? Better-tasting water, tastier food, softer and healthier hair and skin, and most importantly, superb protection from potentially dangerous water contaminants.

The CF1 is an affordable, easy-to-install, and easy-to-use option and can save hundreds of dollars compared to buying bottled water. Plus, it doesn’t contribute to the increasing amount of plastic waste affecting the urban environment today.

The Springwell SWRO Reverse Osmosis Water Filters

If you only need filtered water at a specific tap, an under-sink filter, such as the Springwell SWRO reverse osmosis system, can be an easy and quick option to get safe, clean, healthy water in your home.

The Springwell SWRO is one of two 4-Stage reverse osmosis water filters designed to remove chlorine, chloramines, and chlorine byproducts and reduce heavy metals like lead and mercury in tap water. It also eliminates those pesky chlorine-resistant cysts, herbicides, pesticides, and VOCs and can even remove those nasty bacteria known for causing illnesses and diseases in humans. Even more impressive, the system is compact enough to fit under any kitchen counter where it produces over 75 gallons of treated water per day.

Final Thoughts

Hardly a day goes by without water contamination in various states and cities cropping up in the national news cycle. However, some states are taking brilliant steps to provide high-quality tap water for residents. Many of these actions include enforcing strict water quality standards, monitoring water quality, providing ample funding for water treatment, and many more. But even if your state has the cleanest and safest tap water in America, unseen toxic contaminants may still linger in the water. As a result, we recommend testing your water and investing in a reliable home water filtration system to eliminate any harmful contaminants detected in your home’s water supply.

To learn more about Springwell’s unique, reliable, and affordable filtration systems and how they can help improve the safety and taste of your drinking water, feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.