Tapped Out: Pennsylvania’s Tap Water Ranks as Sixth Worst in the US

By Ashley Adams

July 20, 2023

In a recent study, Pennsylvania’s tap water ranked as the sixth worst in the nation, with 33% of the state’s rivers and streams failing to meet water quality standards.

We use tap water to wash dishes, launder clothes, bathe, cook, drink, and more. Given all that use, it might be time to think about installing a quality filtration system after Pennsylvania landed in the top 10 of states with the worst tap water.

Pennsylvania ranked 6th in the nation for worst tap water, according to a recent study by J.D. Power. The study tracked water utility customers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and determined rankings based on quality and reliability.

Kentucky has the best tap water, followed by Washington and New York. Alabama had the worst, followed by Maryland and Oklahoma.

The quality of drinking water has become a hot topic over the years after numerous water crises in various US cities. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the commonwealth’s terrible tap water can be traced back to our industrial past. Coal mining alone is responsible for high levels of pollution along 20,000 miles of state waterways.

Almost 28,000 miles of Pennsylvania waters are victim to pollution, according to the state DEP’s 2022 Integrated Water Quality Report. The report found that 33% of the state’s more than 85,000 miles of rivers and streams do not meet water quality standards for water supply, aquatic life, recreation, or fish consumption.

Should I Have My Water Tested?

Yes, you should test your tap water every year for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH levels. Always use a state certified laboratory that conducts drinking water tests.

Who Should Collect Water Samples?

You can collect water samples yourself, after getting the proper sanitized containers and instructions from the laboratory or the kit being used.

How Do I Collect a Water Sample?

Water samples should be collected from the kitchen faucet since that is where most water is used for drinking and cooking.

In general, before taking the water sample, the container should be rinsed two or three times with the water being collected. Read and follow the sampling instructions carefully.


  • Ashley Adams

    In her 16 years in the communications industry, Ashley Adams has worn many hats, including news reporter, public relations writer, marketing specialist, copy editor and technical writer. Ashley grew up in Berks County and has since returned to her roots to raise her three children.

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