Providence Drinking Water Problems | Providence Water Quality – Hydroviv

Problems We Found In Providence, Rhode Island's Drinking Water


Analies Dyjak | Policy Nerd   
Updated July 26, 2019 to include current data

For Hydroviv’s assessment of Providence, Rhode Island’s drinking water problems, 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.

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. 

Lead In Providence’s Drinking Water

The lead levels in Providence currently exceed the federal limit, and therefore the municipality is out of compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule. Lead enters tap water through old lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. 10% of the samples analyzed had lead concentrations over 22.3 parts per billion. Environmental Protection Agency, Center for Disease Control, and American Academy of Pediatrics all recognize that there is no safe level of lead for children. These health and regulatory agencies are trying to lower the current standard of 15 parts per billion to 1 part per billion, so a concentration of 22.3 parts per billion is very concerning. To make matters worse, in a city of almost 200,000 people, only 303 homes were tested for lead in drinking water. 50 of the 303 homes that were tested for lead exceeded the federal Action Level. Municipalities are not required to list the data set or disclose the locations from which the samples were obtained. This being considered, the provided data may not be representative of the actual scope of the lead problem in Providence. 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.

Disinfection Byproducts In Providence's Water 

Providence Water is also in exceedance of a category of Disinfection Byproducts or DBPs, called Trihalomethanes. EPA regulates two categories of DBPs: Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and Haloacetic Acids-5 (HAA5). The average concentration of TTHMs is 82.3 parts per billion which exceeds the loose EPA 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.

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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  • Analies Dyjak