Summary:  Do you trust that your water is safe? Here are the American water scandals that might make you think twice about your water.

In a country like the US, it’s almost absurd to think that citizens are being denied their basic right to access clean, potable water. The expectation that we have clean water available to us is so basic that many of us take it for granted; however, every year there are millions of people in the United States alone who are exposed to drinking water that isn’t safe. In fact, between 1982 and 2015, anywhere from 9 million to 45 million Americans per year were getting drinking water from a source that was in violation of EPA standards.

Here are a few of the cases that will make you question your water.

Flint, Michigan

in 2014, the entire community of Flint, Michigan was poisoned when lead from aging pipes contaminated the water system. As many as 90 people were sickened, and 12 died from exposure to the contaminated water. The incident is still under investigation, with eight open cases against officials and seven other officials who have plead guilty to offenses.


Pittsburgh was put on a boil water advisory in 2017 after the potential for a parasite called giardia was suspected to be present in the water. The incident led to an audit, where it was revealed that health officials may have been misleading residents about the quality of their drinking water.


Between 2015 and 2017, a number of Milwaukee children tested positive for elevated lead levels after public health officials failed to inform families of the presence of lead in their water supplies. This follows on the heels of the 1993 Cryptosporidiosis outbreak, which caused 1.61 million residents to become ill, making it the largest waterborne disease outbreak in documented United States history.


In Newark, New Jersey, lead contamination is at an all-time high. Between July 2018 to December 2018, 100 out of 240 samples from Newark’s water system tested for critical lead levels. High levels of haloacetic acids (HAAs), which cause skin irritation and potentially increase cancer risk, have also been discovered in nine of the city’s 12 testing sites.

Washington, DC

Elevated lead levels have been reported right in the president’s backyard. Since the early 2000s, many residents have been warned about the potential for lead contamination as a result of water being sourced through lead pipes. In 2016, 12,000 DC buildings were still getting their water from lead pipes, many of which are in less affluent neighborhoods due to the high costs that fall to the residents to replace those pipes.

Brady, Texas

Across Texas, but particularly in the small city of Brady, residents are dealing with high levels of radioactive substances in their water supplies. Brady’s radium levels are at nine times the EPA limit, and many locals are drinking bottled water to avoid their orange, brown, and even green tap water.


Baltimore’s water doesn’t just test high for lead; its main reservoir (Druid Lake) is also contaminated by particles that carry viruses, bacteria, and parasites.

Dos Palos

The California drought has caused toxic levels of arsenic to leach into the water supply in the city of Dos Palos. The water has also tested high for chemicals that have been linked to cancer risk and known kidney problems.

Charleston, West Virginia

A massive chemical spill of MCHM (a chemical foam that is used to wash coal) that occurred in 2014 was still impacting Charleston’s water supply in 2017, when a number of contaminants were detected.


In upstate New York, fire-fighting foam was spilled into a stream that connected to Newburgh’s reservoir. Since then, the city has been testing positive for a dangerous pollutant called perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS).

Test Your Water

Thinking twice about your water now? Put your mind at ease by testing your water for probable contaminants every six months. AquaKnow makes testing your well or municipal water quick, easy and affordable.