Making Government Work

Which City Has the Best Tap Water?

July 8, 2014
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Which City Has the Best Tap Water?
Boston won a national tap water taste test competition organized by the American Water Works Association. Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Boston's award-winning H20 is the result of preserving hundreds of miles of undeveloped space.

Not all water faucets produce equally. In fact, tap water can vary a lot these days — from grimy to cloudy to just simply flammable.

In Boston, however, you can find some great water. That’s because the city just won a national tap water taste test competition (yes, that exists) organized by the American Water Works Association.

The annual competition (which, by chance was held in Boston this year) revealed the secret to Boston’s delicious H2O: Watershed protection, according to Yes!

The city purchases its water from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, which for the better part of the last 30 years has been buying conservation land near the Quabbin and Wachusett reservoirs — both of which are the sources of Boston’s water.

This uninhabited, undeveloped space naturally filters the water before it reaches the reservoirs, as well as during its journey to the city, purifying it. This natural cleansing doesn’t just make it healthy and tasty; it also just about eliminates the need to use expensive chemical filtration on it, too.

The tasty tap water doesn’t come cheaply, though. It has cost the Authority billions of dollars to purchase the four hundred square miles of protected forest surrounding Quabbin and Wachusett Reservoirs, as well as their cleanup and conservation efforts along the Charles River and in Boston harbor.

Though with the huge improvement in quality made since 1985 (when the Authority was established), it seems like money well spent.

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