Best water quality in the US / Lower 48?

(First post - searched GQ but couldn’t find this specific question within the past year+)

My grandfather’s always sworn by “Michigan straight,” and I was conditioned at a young age to trust the tap. On the other hand, several people I know swear by brand-name charcoal filtration pitchers and tap fixtures, not just for taste but to keep out the biotic baddies lurking in the local water supply. Leads me to wonder if, in fact, we who drink “Michigan straight” are fortunate to do so… and if not, who has the best water (by quantitative cleanliness, not ‘taste,’ as I assume clean water leads to good taste anyway) in the US / Lower 48 (I just sort of assume Alaska’s water is the glistening pure stuff of brand-name charcoal filtration system commercials)?

No cites, but I’ve always heard that New York City water was rated very highly. It seemed fine when I lived there for my first 20 years.

On the other hand I have nothing but disgust for the water in the Ft. Lauderdale Florida area. :mad:

NYC water is the best I have ever tasted (including all the bottled water). I have no cite but I do know that Consumer Reports uses it as the standard against which they measure bottled waters.

Incidentally, Brita filters at least make no claim about filtering out bacteria or other organisms. I use one at home because Montreal water tastes awful. I grew up in Philly and their water was (and presumably still is) notoriously bad tasting.

Brita only filters out a couple kinds of microbes (perhaps as a side effect), since their main goals are to filter out chlorine and lead. The two listed are protozoans that can cause illness.

Palm Beach County, FL has great county water and some rather advanced treatment plants - I haven’t tasted better tap water yet. Some of the cities in the county produce their own water (like West Palm Beach) and that tastes pretty bad.

Cleveland, Ohio’s public water has won some awards. I like it fine.

Here is a cite, although it’s a comparison only among New York State municipal water systems. “In August [2008, based on the article date], at the New York State Fair in Syracuse, New York City beat out more than 150 municipal water systems in New York State for the title of best-tasting drinking water.”

Another article about the same competition. This one notes that this was the first time New York City won in 22 years of the competition.

It changes from year to year, but in 2008 it was Louisville (cite). When I lived in Ames, IA, I heard many times about our having won awards for our tap water, though we were not #1 (Ames is one of the communities mentioned in the above cite).

if you have good tap water, buying bottled water is wasting money. Detroit’s water is very good.

New Arsenic standards took effect in the last few years. Water systems that did not meet these standards have or will be upgraded. Most of the systems for Arsenic mitigation also remove (as a side effect) many other contaminants…and may also add some iron or aluminum. So the rankings of water systems should not be considered static.

In February, 2009, the “Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting” was held in West Virginia and the best municipal water in the US was judged to be from Hamilton, Ohio, while Clearbrook Waterworks District from British Columbia, Canada was judged best worldwide.

It’s going to be hard to define “best” water quality in any useful way. For example, you might think that fewest “contaminants” might be a good way to go – just H2O and nothing else. Unfortunately, water like that tastes pretty bad. For example, I work in a biology lab, and one of the things we have is basically the best water filter that money can buy*. The water that comes out is entirely sterile, and just about every removable compound is gone. For kicks, I tried drinking a sample – and it was flat and acidic, and generally tasted pretty bad. So ultra-pure water makes for lame drinking water.

*though I bet there’s some chemist or physicist that needs an even better filter, because a few parts per trillion contamination will overwhelm some measurement or another…

Atlanta water is the worst I have ever tasted. Can’t stand it.

Every public water supply in the U.S. is stringently tested and monitored for biotic baddies, and monitoried far more stringently than bottled water (at least, the bottled water that isn’t just tap water in a fancy bottle). The only thing ever worth worrying about (without specific reason) in tap water is lead, and that’s only IF you live in an older house and IF you have children. In which case, get a lead test so you can stop worrying (or less likely, do something about it).

Charcoal filters, like Brita’s are pretty unnecessary. If you think they make the water taste better, go for it, but I’d bet that in most (I admit not all) cases a double-blind test couldn’t tell the difference between tap and filtered-tap water.

Heck, if your definition of ‘best’ is ‘least metals’ then Brita is worse than tap (the charcoal filters include silver to prevent biotic baddies from growing on the filter; some silver leaches into the water).

It interests me to hear that NYC water is reported to be good tasting. The water in Minneapolis Minnesota is terrible I will not drink water when visiting family in that area.
Our water in my home town is wonderful. There are very few private wells that have water anywhere close to our city water. In fact some wells are salt water in the area.
A small community close by is home to a water bottling company that labels their water as the finest drinking water in America.
Cite;

I comes from the biwabik-aquifer.

Here is a link to a similar thread from last week:

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=539861

Each municipal water system is required to make available an annual report of water quality. Here is the report for the city where I live:

http://www.ci.richland.wa.us/RICHLAND/Utilities/docs/15/docs/2009%20Water%20Report%20CCR%20Richland-R4%20Final.pdf?CFID=2531893&CFTOKEN=69997888

Just as a quick note regarding several above posts both lead and copper are required to be monitored by public water systems. The American Water Works Association (AWWA) has a competition as part of its annual conference and many local chapters also conduct “best water” contests.

New York is pretty good but, if you want to extend it internationally, the water in Rome is by far, the tastiest I have ever had.

San Francisco (Hetch-Hetchy) has fantastic water.