Providence, Rhode Island, 2020 Drinking Water Report


*Updated May 19, 2020 to include current data*

Analies Dyjak  |  Policy Nerd

For Hydroviv’s assessment of Providence, Rhode Island’s drinking water, we collected water quality test data from Providence Water and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We cross referenced the city’s water quality data with toxicity studies in scientific and medical literature. The water filters that we sell at Hydroviv are optimized to filter out contaminants that are found in Providence drinking water.

Lead In Providence’s Drinking Water

Providence, Rhode Island has been in exceedance of the federal lead Action Level since 2005. The water quality report released in 2020 found that lead levels in Providence are currently 18 parts per billion, and 38/295 samples tested exceeded the EPA Action level of 15 ppb.  Lead enters tap water through old lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. Environmental Protection Agency, Center for Disease Control, and American Academy of Pediatrics all recognize that there is no safe level of lead for children. The data provided by the city may not be representative of the actual scope of the lead problem in Providence, RI because only 295 homes were tested for lead. Hydroviv strongly encourages Providence residents to take advantage of the city’s free lead testing program. Under this program, residents can pick up a free kit to test for lead in their drinking water at the Providence Water customer service location. For more information call 401-521-6303.

 Year 90th Percentile Lead 2nd Period (parts per billion/ppb) EPA Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (parts per billion/ppb)
2006 23 ppb 0 ppb
2007 21 ppb 0 ppb
2008 21 ppb 0 ppb
2009 30 ppb 0 ppb
2010 20 ppb 0 ppb
2011 21 ppb 0 ppb
2012 25 ppb 0 ppb
2013 30 ppb 0 ppb
2014 16 ppb 0 ppb
2015 15 ppb 0 ppb
2016 16 ppb 0 ppb
2017 17 ppb 0 ppb
2018 22 ppb 0 ppb
2019 16 ppb 0 ppb

Disinfection Byproducts In Providence's Water

Providence Water also has elevated levels of Disinfection Byproducts or DBPs. EPA regulates two categories of DBPs: Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and Haloacetic Acids-5 (HAA5). The average concentration of TTHMs was 71.8 parts per billion which is just under EPA's standard of 80 parts per billion for drinking water. DBPs are a category of emerging contaminants which means they have been detected in drinking water but the risk to human health is unknown. DBPs are formed when when chlorine based disinfectants are routinely added to the water supply to kill bacteria. Regulatory agencies have very little knowledge about the adverse health effects of DBPs and their toxicity. EPA has stated that they have been linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems. Some disinfection byproducts have almost no toxicity, but others have been associated with cancer, reproductive problems, and developmental issues in laboratory animals. 200 million people in the United States use chlorinated tap water as their primary drinking source, so we take understanding their full health effects very seriously, even if federal agencies fail to regulate all categories.

Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance (PFAS) In Providence Drinking Water

PFAS are a category of emerging contaminants that have been detected in a growing number of water supplies across the United States. PFAS have been associated with an increased risk of cancer, an increased risk of miscarriages, and other adverse health effects. PFAS have been detected in water supplies throughout the state of Rhode Island. Because they are not regulated, cities like Providence are not required to test, monitor, or remove them from drinking water.Not all water filters are able to remove PFAS from tap water.

Where Does Providence Source Its Drinking Water?

Providence sources its drinking water from the Scituate Reservoir, which is located 15 miles east of the city. The Scituate Reservoir has tributaries that flow in and out of several other reservoirs including the Regulating, Barden, Ponaganset, Westconnaug, and Moswansicut reservoirs. The Providence Water system has approximately 1,040 miles of transmission and distribution mains.

It’s important to note that only a handful of contaminants are required to be included in annual Consumer Confidence Reports, and that there are hundreds of potentially harmful unregulated contaminants that aren’t accounted for. If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for Providence’s tap water quality, feel free to visit to talk to a Water Nerd on our live chat feature or send us an email at

Other Articles We Think You Might Enjoy:
Lead In Drinking Water
Disinfection Byproducts: What You Need To Know
Chloramine In Drinking Water
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