14 U.S. Cities Where Drinking Water Quality Is Falling Below Standards

As U.S. citizens, we often take our expectations for clean, safe drinking water for granted. However, the safety and quality of drinking water are diminishing across the nation. A staggering number of American cities are now dealing with water systems that deliver water failing to meet federal health standards, with some areas grappling with issues that could seem unthinkable in the 21st century. In our list, the safety and quality of drinking water have come under scrutiny, not just by regulatory bodies but by the very people who live in these fifteen cities. What are their challenges, how are residents responding, and what steps are local governments taking to mitigate these alarming situations?

Flint, Michigan

The Flint water crisis highlighted severe lead contamination from a decision to switch the city’s water source without proper corrosion control treatments. Residents have endured long-term health risks and remain wary despite ongoing recovery efforts. As per the Michigan State Government, over 9,000 lead-tainted pipes have been replaced since 2016, and water quality has returned to an acceptable level. Yet many locals continue to rely on bottled water for drinking.

Newark, New Jersey

In Newark, lead contamination affecting thousands prompted widespread protests and urgent actions. The city launched an aggressive $120 million program to replace lead service lines within 24 to 30 months, as the city’s Department of Water and Sewer Utilities reported. As of early 2023, over 20,000 lead pipes have been replaced, drastically reducing lead levels in the drinking water.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh has faced significant challenges with lead in its water. According to the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, lead levels exceeded the EPA’s action threshold in 2016. The city has since committed to replacing at least 7,000 lead lines by 2026, and recent data suggests that lead levels are now below the EPA’s action limit, signaling progress in their remediation efforts.

Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore’s water issues, including E. coli contamination, have led to multiple boil water advisories. The city’s Department of Public Works has initiated a comprehensive $1.6 billion water system overhaul, focusing on updating aging infrastructure and implementing advanced water treatment technologies to prevent future contamination.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee’s lead pipe crisis affects an estimated 70,000 residences, primarily in older homes. The city has responded with a plan to replace about 1,000 lead service lines per year, focusing on high-risk areas such as schools and daycare centers, as stated by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Despite these efforts, challenges still remain in funding and logistics.

Fresno, California

Fresno deals with arsenic and other agricultural runoff contaminants. The California State Water Resources Control Board reports that some areas of Fresno have arsenic levels that exceed the EPA’s standard by up to three times. Ongoing initiatives include enhancing water filtration systems and securing state funds to improve water infrastructure.

Detroit, Michigan

Detroit’s extensive water system serves nearly 4 million people but needs help with aging infrastructure that risks lead contamination. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is undergoing a city-wide effort to replace old lead service lines and improve water treatment facilities, aiming to safeguard against potential health risks.

Washington, D.C.

In Washington, D.C., historical issues with lead contamination have led to significant public health concerns. The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority has been actively working on a comprehensive lead replacement program. It has implemented rigorous water quality testing protocols to ensure the water meets national safety standards.

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans faces unique challenges due to its low elevation and frequent water pressure issues, which can lead to contamination. The Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans has invested in significant infrastructure upgrades to improve resilience and reliability, including emergency power and water system enhancements.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Given its desert location, it should come as no surprise that Las Vegas faces significant challenges in maintaining water quality. The Southern Nevada Water Authority has implemented cutting-edge technology for water treatment and reuse to manage the presence of trace contaminants, striving to sustain water quality in a region marked by scarcity.

Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix contends with hard water and high levels of calcium and magnesium, besides periodic breaches in contaminant levels. Efforts by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality include upgrading water treatment plants and enhancing groundwater management strategies to cope with the city’s expanding population and environmental challenges.

Los Angeles, California

The residents of Los Angeles grapple with several industrial pollutants in their water, including chromium-6. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is investing in state-of-the-art water treatment facilities and pollution control to reduce the impact of industrial contaminants on the city’s water supply.

St. Joseph, Louisiana

St. Joseph’s water system has suffered from discolored water and high iron content, leading to state intervention. The Louisiana Department of Health has spearheaded a complete overhaul of the water system, investing millions to replace the entire water infrastructure to ensure compliance with federal standards.

Bakersfield, California

Bakersfield’s water is twice as deadly: it contains both naturally occurring elements like arsenic and human-made contaminants like pesticides. The California Water Boards monitor these levels closely, with ongoing initiatives to improve water filtration and reduce dependency on contaminated groundwater sources.

Cleveland, Ohio

For years, Cleveland has been tackling pollution in Lake Erie, its primary water source, through enhanced treatment processes and strict monitoring. The Cleveland Water Department has focused on protecting the lake from industrial pollutants and runoff for its nearly 1.4 million consumers. However, the ongoing challenge of lake pollution, thanks to industrial waste, necessitates continuous monitoring and treatment improvements.

10 Tips to Improve Your Self-Esteem That Actually Work

Boosting your self-esteem can be a bit like tidying up a messy room. At first glance, it might seem daunting or even overwhelming, but things get clearer once you know where to start. Did you know that according to a study by the National Institute of Mental Health, about 80% of Americans sometimes deal with low self-esteem? That’s quite a lot of us feeling less than great about ourselves. So what’s the solution? Here are some real, doable steps anyone can take to improve their self-esteem starting right here, right now.

It’s Not About Being Perfect

Chasing perfection is like trying to catch smoke with your bare hands—it’s impossible, and trying to do so can actually make us feel down. A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology by Thomas Curran and Andrew Hill highlights that striving for perfection can lead to feelings of depression. Meanwhile, Carol S. Dweck, in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, encourages us to focus on progress, not perfection. She teaches us the value of “not yet”—meaning if you haven’t achieved something yet, it’s not a failure but an opportunity for growth.

Change Your Thinking

Ever find yourself stuck in a loop of negative thoughts? You’re not alone. The American Psychological Association discusses how these patterns can affect our self-esteem. David D. Burns’ Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy offers a way out through cognitive reframing, helping us to challenge and change those negative thoughts into something more positive and realistic.

Self-Care is Key

Never underestimate the power of taking care of yourself. According to Harvard Health Publishing, healthy habits like getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and regular exercising can drastically improve your mental and physical well-being. Studies have shown that getting enough sleep can improve cognitive function and mood, while regular exercise releases endorphins, natural mood elevators that can boost self-esteem.

Avoid the Comparison Trap

We’re living in the age of social media, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. But remember, you’re seeing their highlights, not their outtakes. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin reminds us to focus on our journey and celebrate others’ successes without comparing them to ours. Research suggests that social media comparison can be detrimental to self-esteem, with a study by the University of Pennsylvania finding that increased Facebook use has links to lower self-esteem, particularly among young adults.

Be Your Own Best Friend

When was the last time you showed yourself the same regard and affection as you show your loved ones? Kristin Neff, Ph.D., is a leading voice in the world of self-compassion. She teaches us to treat ourselves with the same kindness, understanding, and support we’d offer a good friend. This approach, as detailed on self-compassion.org, is a proven way to boost our self-esteem and overall well-being.

Shine a Spotlight on Your Strengths

Recognizing and celebrating our own strengths and talents is crucial. The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, suggests acknowledging our abilities can significantly boost our self-esteem. Sometimes, it helps to ask friends or colleagues for their perspective, offering insights we might have overlooked.

Set Goals You Can Actually Achieve

It’s easy to get carried away when thinking big. Ambition in life is good, but unrealistic goals can quickly lead to disappointment. Psychology Today emphasizes the importance of setting attainable goals to avoid this pitfall. Adopting the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goal framework, as Mind Tools outlines, can help create a clear roadmap to success and, by extension, boost self-esteem.

Find Gratitude in the Everyday

Did you know that being grateful can make you feel better about yourself? Far from simply being an age-old adage, research by Robert Emmons, shared by The Journal of Positive Psychology, confirms this. Numerous authorities, including the Greater Good Science Center, agree that keeping a gratitude journal or practicing daily affirmations of thankfulness can shift our focus to the positive, enhancing our self-esteem.

Lend a Hand

There’s nothing quite like the joy of helping others. But did you know that helping others isn’t just good for them – it’s great for our self-esteem, too? Interestingly, the Corporation for National and Community Service found that volunteering can significantly boost our sense of purpose and connection to the community. Meanwhile, another study by the Corporation found that volunteers experienced a 20% increase in feelings of well-being and a 15% decrease in symptoms of depression! (Both are factors that contribute to positive self-esteem)

Mistakes Are Just Opportunities in Disguise

So many of us live in fear of making mistakes. Psych Central highlights the importance of viewing mistakes as learning opportunities. This mindset can alleviate the fear of failure and help us grow and improve our self-esteem. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that individuals who view mistakes as opportunities for growth tend to be more resilient and have higher self-esteem.

Cultivate Positive Relationships

The people we choose to spend our time with can significantly impact how we see ourselves. The Mayo Clinic advises surrounding ourselves with positive, supportive people who uplift us and contribute to our sense of self-worth. Studies have shown that strong social connections can buffer against stress and contribute to overall well-being, both of which can positively impact self-esteem.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Finally, the American Psychological Association advocates for challenging ourselves with new experiences. Stepping out of our comfort zone can be daunting, but it’s also where we find growth and build confidence, boosting our self-esteem in the process. Their research suggests that trying new things can increase self-efficacy (belief in one’s ability to succeed) and lead to greater self-esteem.

Challenge Negative Self-Talk

Our inner voice can be our harshest critic. But, research suggests that we can learn to challenge negative self-talk and replace it with more positive and empowering thoughts. A study published in the journal Cognitive Therapy and Research found that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which teaches techniques for identifying and reframing negative thoughts, can be highly effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety while also boosting self-esteem.

Celebrate Small Wins

Focusing solely on achieving major goals can leave us feeling discouraged. The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, suggests celebrating small wins along the way instead. This practice helps us stay motivated and recognize our progress, ultimately contributing to stronger self-esteem. Further proving the point, a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that individuals who acknowledged and celebrated their accomplishments, big or small, reported marked improvements in well-being and positive self-esteem.

Practice Mindfulness

Last but not least, here’s a tool proven to help improve not just our self-esteem but our overall quality of life: Mindfulness. It is the practice of paying attention to the present moment without judgment. Becoming more aware of our thoughts and feelings non-judgmentally helps us begin to accept ourselves more fully and, in turn, fosters a positive self-image. Scientific evidence supports this: A study published in the Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment found that mindfulness training led to decreased self-criticism and increased self-compassion among participants.

Most Popular Sandwiches in America Ranked from Worst to Best

Who doesn’t love a good sandwich? It’s the quintessential American lunch, perfect for picnics, office breaks, and anytime in-between. From coast to coast, every sandwich tells a story, a culinary narrative woven from the bread up. This is about to be a tasty journey, ranking the most beloved sandwiches in the U.S., from the might-have-been-betters to the absolute must-eats. It’s gonna be a delicious ride!

Tuna Salad Sandwich

The tuna salad sandwich, often a divisive choice, lands at our starting point. It’s the sandwich you either love or love to hate. Tuna, mixed with mayonnaise and a dash of celery for crunch, can swing from delightful to drab, depending on its preparation. When done right, with fresh ingredients and perhaps a hint of lemon zest, it transcends its humble beginnings, originating from the need to conserve in 19th-century America.

Egg Salad Sandwich

Next up is the egg salad sandwich. As a nutritional powerhouse, eggs offer high-quality protein at a low price. This sandwich is a classic, sure, but it’s often relegated to the ‘last resort’ category at gatherings. The secret to elevating it lies in the details: perfectly boiled eggs, a touch of mustard for tang, and crisp lettuce can transform it. However, its tendency to be a bit on the mushy side keeps it from climbing higher on our list.

Meatball Sub

The meatball sub is a hearty contender. Its origins come from cities with large Italian immigrant communities, like New York and Chicago, popularized by street vendors and delis. Overflowing with marinara sauce, melted cheese, and beefy meatballs, it’s a sandwich that demands attention (and plenty of napkins). Its downfall? It’s a bit unwieldy, often leading to more of a mess than some are willing to tackle during lunch. Still, its bold flavors earn it a respectable spot.

Bologna Sandwich

Ah, the bologna sandwich, also known as a baloney sandwich. For many, it’s childhood nostalgia between two slices of bread. A slice of bologna, a swipe of mustard, and you’re transported back in time. While not the most sophisticated option, its origins are a bit fancier than you might think. Bologna itself is the great-great-grandson of Italy’s mortadella.


The BLT—bacon, lettuce, and tomato—is simplicity perfected. No wonder National BLT Sandwich Month, which takes place in April, exists. It’s all about the quality of the ingredients: crisp bacon, ripe tomatoes, and fresh lettuce. With just a bit of mayo, it sings. The precise origins of the B.L.T. sandwich remain unclear, though it’s believed to have developed from bacon sandwiches traditionally served during teatime in the English countryside since the Victorian era.

French Dip

Dipping into the top ten, the French Dip is a marvel of meat and bread. Thinly sliced roast beef, a crusty baguette, and that all-important side of au jus for dipping create a symphony of flavors. The founder of the former restaurant, Philippe Mathieu, is credited with creating the “dipped” sandwich in 1918 after inadvertently dropping a French roll into a roasting pan filled with juice. The customer who ordered it said they would eat the sandwich anyway, giving us the French dip.

Philly Cheesesteak

The Philly Cheesesteak is as much a cultural icon as it is a sandwich. The creation of the sandwich is disputed, but brothers Pat and Harry Olivieri from South Philadelphia in the 1930s are frequently recognized as its originators. Thinly sliced steak, melted cheese, and onions on a hoagie roll make for a messy, mouthwatering experience. It’s beloved nationwide, though purists argue only Philly does it right.

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Smokey, tender pulled pork slathered in barbecue sauce and piled high on a bun—the pulled pork sandwich is a masterpiece of slow cooking. Pulled pork originated in the Southern United States, introduced by early settlers who brought pigs upon their arrival. It’s a testament to the magic that can happen with time and smoke. Depending on the region, the sauce and slaw accompaniments vary, making it a versatile favorite.

Cuban Sandwich

The Cuban sandwich is a delightful mix of flavors: ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard on Cuban bread. Pressed until crispy, it’s a little slice of Havana! The sandwich is named in honor of Cuban immigrants who significantly influenced its creation in early Ybor City. The ingredients also pay homage to the southern Italian bricklayers and German cigar workers who settled there.


The Reuben is a taste sensation: corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing, all grilled between slices of rye bread. In 1925, local grocer Reuben Kulakofsky invented it to serve participants of a late-night poker game at the Blackstone Hotel in downtown Omaha. It’s a harmonious blend of savory, tangy, and creamy elements. But although linked with kosher-style delicatessens, it is not kosher because it mixes meat and cheese.

Turkey Club

The turkey club is essentially a BLT enhanced with extra protein and an additional slice of bread. We can also say that it’s a study in sandwich architecture: three layers of bread filled with turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. It’s a towering achievement, both literally and figuratively. Its balanced flavors and textures make it a perennial favorite, deserving of its high rank.

Italian Sub

The Italian sub is a carnival of flavors: various meats like salami, ham, and pepperoni, along with provolone, lettuce, tomato, onions, and dressing. It’s a vibrant, hearty sandwich that’s both filling and flavorful. So, why is it called an Italian Sub? One theory suggests the name originates from Italian-American slang for a dock worker, a group with whom the sandwich was particularly popular.

Grilled Cheese

The grilled cheese is the ultimate comfort food sandwich. Believe it or not, it was once called “Cheese Dream,” an open-faced version of what we’ve come to love today. Golden-brown bread with melted cheese oozing out the sides—it’s an easy to make treat that’s hard to beat. It’s also a canvas for creativity, with endless cheese and add-in possibilities.

Pastrami on Rye

Second place goes to the iconic pastrami on rye. In 1888, Lithuanian immigrant Sussman Volk created it at his deli located on Delancey Street in Manhattan. This New York deli classic, with its spiced pastrami, mustard, and rye bread, is simplicity done to perfection. The key is in the quality of the pastrami, sliced thin and piled high. It’s a sandwich that combines tradition with taste in every bite.

The Classic PB&J

And at the pinnacle of our sandwich summit? The peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Surprised? Don’t be. Beloved by children and adults alike, the perfect PB&J is all about the ratio and the quality of its three simple ingredients. It’s a culinary icon, straightforward yet capable of evoking deep nostalgia and joy. The PB&J is not just a sandwich; it’s an American classic that deserves its top spot for bringing together generations over a simple, delicious meal.