Access to clean water is essential, but a struggle for many populations around the world. Even in the U.S., there are millions of people who lack access to safe water sources. For example, Flint, Michigan is in their seventh year of a water crises. And just weeks ago, 15 million Texans lost access to clean water during a historic winter storm.
With clean water more crucial than ever to public health, LawnStarter is helping to bring awareness to America’s water crisis by ranking 2021’s Best Cities for Water Quality. They compared the 200 biggest U.S. cities on seven key factors — from consumers’ overall satisfaction with their water to the number of quality violations to the share of homes lacking basic plumbing.
Here are the 10 best and 10 worst cities, followed by highlights and lowlights from our report.
Best Cities for Water Quality:
1 Columbus, OH
2 St. Petersburg, FL
3 Aurora, CO
4 Frisco, TX
5 Overland Park, KS
6 Naperville, IL
7 Minneapolis, MN
8 Charlotte, NC
9 Peoria, AZ
10 Raleigh, NC
Worst Cities for Water Quality:
191 Lancaster, CA
192 Midland, TX
193 Torrance, CA
194 Laredo, TX
195 Grand Prairie, TX
196 Metairie, LA
197 Cape Coral, FL
198 Oceanside, CA
199 Moreno Valley, CA
200 Garden Grove, CA
Highlights and Lowlights:
Columbus: Crisp, Cool, Clean Water: Ohio might not be the first locale that comes to mind when thinking about clean water, but it should. Columbus claims the top spot as the Best U.S. City for Water Quality — a far cry from Cleveland, the poster child of pollution in America’s waterways. Over 50 years ago, the Cuyahoga River, a source of Cleveland’s drinking water, caught fire and still hasn’t fully recovered.
While not dominating in any single category, Columbus performed well in consumer satisfaction with overall water quality, natural hazards risk, and share of homes with sewage disposal breakdowns.
SoCal: Sunny but Not-So-Great Water: Southern California found itself consistently at the bottom of our ranking, though other parts of the Golden State rank mid- to high-tier.
Some cities like Garden Grove actually performed fairly well in the compliance category, but where SoCal wavers is in infrastructure vulnerability. Garden Grove has a disturbingly high share of homes lacking plumbing or kitchen facilities.
Many other regional cities, like Moreno Valley, received poor scores in the natural hazards risk metric. This is no surprise to Southern Californians, who have been dealing with an ongoing water quality crisis for years.
Water in the Desert — or Not: Despite ranking middle of the pack on consumer satisfaction, Arizona cities consistently have some of the highest numbers of water quality violations in the country. Tucson takes the bottom spot in this category with a whopping 56,748 violations. Cities like Chandler and Peoria aren’t far behind with many thousands of violations, either.
What’s behind this bad water in the Grand Canyon State? With a growing population, a draining aquifer, a booming agriculture industry, and competition from neighboring states, to say that the water system in Arizona is stressed would be an understatement.
The Last Frontier … for Water Quality: Anchorage, Alaska, boasts the 12th highest overall consumer satisfaction and fifth highest satisfaction with water quality and accessibility. But there’s one problem: Anchorage has the second highest number of water quality violations in the country, at 33,703. These recent quality issues are spread throughout Alaska as a historic drought takes its toll.
Water is an issue around the world. Scientists are currently keep an eye on rising sea level and the impact flooding is having on cities around the globe. (Click here to learn about our sinking cities.) Meanwhile, global warming is melting ice caps at an alarming rate. (Click here to learn about glacial melting.)