Nobody likes that unsettling feeling when you turn on your kitchen tap only to get a stream of cloudy, fizzy water. It's something that's happened to nearly everyone, no matter where you live, and it can't help but make you wonder if your water's clean enough to drink - and just who exactly is monitoring it.
For New Yorkers, the question of clean water is a worry-free one, for the most part. New York State water is among the cleanest in the nation. But sometimes it's not the water source itself that building and unit owners have to worry about; it's what happens to the water as it travels through city pipes or into plumbing systems. Any number of things can happen to water as it traverses those systems, but luckily, there are a lot of options available for managing, purifying and keeping the drinking water in your building safe.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), better than 90 percent of water systems in the United States meet its standards for tap water quality. The system that services New York City is one of those. New Yorkers' water comes from a network of 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes in a nearly 2,000-square-mile watershed north of the city. The vast majority of that water comes from the Catskill/Delaware System, with a smaller portion coming from the Croton System upstate. A very small percentage comes from wells. All told, the New York City reservoir systems provide an average of 1.3 billion gallons of drinking water to more than eight million residents daily.
The City of New York's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) collects well over a thousand water samples each month to monitor quality and safety at fixed sampling stations throughout the city. Workers test for a number of contaminants based on guidelines established by the EPA and the New York State Department of Health. Information is collected on bacteria, chlorine levels, pH, inorganic and organic pollutants, odor, and more.
One important thing to remember, according to the EPA, is that there is no such thing as "naturally" pure water; all water contains impurities. The trick is to maintain safe, low levels of impurities, which is exactly what the city and state test for each month.