Hey New York, Know What’s In Your Tap Water?

new york tap waterIf you are residence of New York you take a lot of pride in your tap water. NYC tap water is touted as being one of the best water to drink in any city or state. But is it completely clean from contaminants?

New York City drinking water is world-renowned for its quality. Each day, more than 1 billion gallons of fresh, clean water is delivered from large upstate reservoirs, some more than 125 miles from the City, to the taps of nine million customers throughout New York state. However, a recent New York Times article raises serious questions about the reliability and consistency of NYC’s good drinking water.

Lead in Drinking Water from Household Plumbing

While the water is virtually lead-free when it is delivered from the City’s upstate reservoir system, one source of contamination should not be overlooked, like old outdated plumbing of apartment buildings. If the plumbing is ancient, water can absorb lead from solder, fixtures, and pipes found in the plumbing of some old buildings or homes. It is possible that this can increase your potential for exposure.

Lead primarily enters drinking water because of corrosion of lead-containing plumbing, including pipes that connect household plumbing to the cityís water mains, solder on copper pipes, and faucets. Although regulations have been put in place to reduce the lead in plumbing, your residence may still contain plumbing and fixtures with lead content if they were installed before these rules came into effect. So do your due dilligence to find out about this important detail.

The city offers residents a lead in water test kit.

Which Contaminants May Be Present NYC Tap?

New York takes its water quality very seriously, however in 2009, “Results indicate that some PPCPs are present in very low concentrations in the source waters of New York City, with a greater frequency of detection in the Croton source water as compared to the Catskill/Delaware source waters. A total of 14 individual PPCP compounds were detected in at least one sampling event; and while ten of these compounds were detected in the previous year, four compounds were new detections found in the Croton source water,” DEP Report states in 2010 report.

Again in 2010, the report continues, “Six of the 16 compounds detected in 2009 were not detected in 2010, three of which were hormones. The PPCP compounds detected most frequently in 2010 included: butalbital, sulfamethoxazole, cotinine, caffeine, carbamazepine, and DEET. PFOS, an industrial chemical, was also detected frequently.”

While there indeed are levels of contamination in the water, a screening level risk assessment conducted by DEP suggests that the concentrations of the detected PPCPs are below levels that would pose a health risk to residents of New York City.

NYC Water Towers

More recently The New York Times investigated the quality of New York’s drinking water. After taking samplings from water towers at 12 buildings in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn they found E. coli in five tanks, and coliform in those tanks and three more. Can anybody say, Yuck! More than likely, as Dr. Stephen C. Edberg, a public-health microbiologist at Yale University said, “Fecal contamination means that the towers are subject to animal intrusion, almost certainly from birds and potentially animals such as squirrels. Clearly, these units are not sealed to the outside.”

City health officials however, insist the water tanks are safe. Read the NYT report.

So while New York takes pride in its tap water, you should not be apathetic towards it. Know what’s in your water, and know what you put in your body by drinking it. It’s always wise to filter your water at home, despite the good reputation of your city water. It could protect you from those contamination sources that slip through.

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