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Tasty Tap Water: 14 Best US Cities for Clean Drinking Water

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REFRESHMENT JUST A TAP AWAY

News of tainted tap water has many Americans wondering about the quality of the water that comes out of their faucets. Whether it's Flint, Michigan, where cost cutting created contaminated drinking water, or excessive lead levels found in 2,000 water systems across the U.S., it's no wonder consumers may be spending more on bottled water even if the local municipal supply is safe. But drinking tap water costs considerably less (and is infinitely more convenient) than repeatedly stocking up on bottled water. In general, good tap water consists of a clean source, careful testing, and thorough filtration and treatment. If contamination is still a concern, the Environmental Protection Agency routinely publishes reports on the safety of public water systems. So, how does your water stack up? Here are some of the best sources of tap water nationwide, based on water quality competitions.

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ELDORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO

The Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting Competition named Eldorado Springs, Colorado, the 2016 gold-medal winner for best tap water in the U.S. The town's spring water, which is available naturally to only about 600 residents, originates as rain and snow. It filters through layers of permeable rock, and then is forced up through a layer of sandstone to the surface, which naturally filters the water. A thick layer of clay just above the sandstone protects the source from impure groundwater.

Independence, MO
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INDEPENDENCE, MISSOURI

This municipal water system is another top finisher in the 2016 Berkeley Springs water contest, considered the largest water-tasting competition in the world. The city's water, which won the bronze medal, is supplied by 42 wells in the area, and then softened and disinfected at a treatment plant to exceed all federal, state, and local quality regulations.

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SANTA ANA, CALIFORNIA

This city's water, which placed fourth in the Berkeley Springs competition, comes mainly from the area's own groundwater wells. The only treatment the city adds is a tiny amount of chlorine (0.4 parts per million) to protect against contamination

Desert Hot Springs
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DESERT HOT SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA

The Mission Springs Water District of Desert Hot Springs is another Berkeley Springs competition winner for tastiest municipal water, placing fifth. Desert Hot Springs is also called California's Spa City because of the area's abundant natural hot mineral water. The water is heated in fissures in the earth, and then rises back up as superheated steam, warming the water in the aquifer.

Glenbrook, Nevada
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GLENBROOK, NEVADA

The National Rural Water Association holds its own best water awards, and puts Glenbrook on top of its list. The high quality and purity of Lake Tahoe's source water has earned Glenbrook a rare filtration exemption drinking water treatment status from the EPA. To earn the distinction, the city uses a state-of-the-art ozone and ultraviolet disinfection system.

Hastings, Oklahoma
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HASTINGS, OKLAHOMA

The National Rural Water Association calls out Hastings as a top water source, awarding it a silver medal for best water in America. The area's water comes primarily from wells and is tested daily to ensure there's no contamination.

Dyersburg, TN
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DYERSBURG, TENNESSEE

The National Rural Water Association also cites Dyersburg for top-ranking tap water -- no surprise considering how hard the city works to keep its water clean. Dyersburg's two water plants scored a near perfect 99 percent in recent sanitary surveys, and the water has also won awards of excellence from the American Water Works Association.

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EMPORIA, KANSAS

The water in this small city has been recognized as the best-tasting water in the world in the Berkeley Springs competition in past years. Emporia gets its water supply from the extensive Neosho River system, which flows through Kansas and Oklahoma before converging with the Arkansas River.

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SCOTTSBLUFF, NEBRASKA

The National Rural Water Association considers Scottsbluff among the top five tap waters. Purified groundwater is the source of the city's drinking water. The water moves through geologic formations of soil, sand, and rocks, providing natural filtering.

Gallatin River Big Sky Montana
Gallatin River Big Sky Montana by Greg Gjerdingen (CC BY)

BIG SKY, MONTANA

The American Water Works Association announced Big Sky, Montana, as the 11th annual "Best of the Best" Tap Water Taste Test winner this year. The taps in this city deliver untreated groundwater, sourced deep enough that it doesn't need to be chemically treated to be drinkable.

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UNIVERSAL CITY, TEXAS

Universal City was deemed a runner-up for best-tasting tap water by AWWA in 2015. It has also won the "Best Tasting Water in Texas" competition. Partially dissolved limestone makes the area's groundwater, drawn from the Edwards Aquifer, taste especially fresh.

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ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO

Albuquerque's water has won accolades for its fresh taste, which is a combination of water from the Santa Fe Group Aquifer and San Juan-Chama surface water diverted from the Rio Grande.

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BOSTON

Boston recently tied for third place in AWWA's competition. The city gets its water from the Quabbin and Wachusett reservoirs, which are considered pristine. The reservoirs supply Boston with water that requires very minimal treatment with ozone and UVA to meet EPA standards.

lake champlain from the cliffs
lake champlain from the cliffs by mamichan (CC BY-NC)

SOUTH BURLINGTON, VERMONT

Champlain Water District of South Burlington won the People's Choice award for best water from attendees at the AWWA water competition. The city's water, which is disinfected continuously, is pumped from Lake Champlain to supply about 145,000 people.