Is NYC Tap Water Safe to Drink

By PropertyClub Team
Dec 14th 2021
New York City has some of the cleanest drinking water of any major city in the United States. But it’s still unfiltered, and there are certain chemicals and foreign substances that can make their way into the water before it reaches your glass. Here is a look at the quality of New York City tap water and whether or not it’s safe to drink.

hash-markHow does the NYC water system work?

New York City has the largest unfiltered water system in the country. It ranks among the best public water systems in the US, along with major cities such as Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland. Every year, the Department of Environmental Protection performs somewhere between 500,000 and 600,000 health and quality tests on the drinking water in NYC to ensure it meets their rigorous standards. 

The New York Watershed supplies clean drinking water to the five boroughs as well as Westchester, Orange, Ulster, and Putnam Counties. The vast majority of New York’s water comes from the Catskill, Delaware, and Croton watersheds. The water from these facilities is so clean that it is not required to be filtered by the EPA. But that doesn’t mean it’s entirely pure by the time it reaches your glass.

hash-markWhat is in NYC drinking water? 

Even though NYC drinking water is not filtered, it is treated with chemicals that may alter its taste or composition. The water is treated with chlorine, fluoride, and sodium hydroxide, as well as UV light to ensure that it is safe to drink. The EPA heavily regulates the treatment process to ensure that none of the chemicals used in the treatment process are harmful to the body or likely to cause long-term health effects. But if you have a heightened sensitivity to any of these substances, you should be aware of their presence in NYC drinking water.

NYC water also contains tiny microscopic organisms called copepods. These microscopic shrimps are not harmful to ingest but eat mosquito larvae known to thrive in standing water. These organisms are used as a biological control mechanism to eliminate possible mosquito breeding sites and make the water cleaner and better tasting. But the presence of copepods means that the water is not technically kosher, which has caused issues with the city’s Orthodox Jewish community.

Aside from what is intentionally added, New York has some of the oldest buildings of any major city in the US. This means that contaminants from the building’s pipes can get into the water. Landlords and property managers are expected to uphold certain standards to ensure that the pipes are healthy and the drinking water is clean. But even still, unwanted materials can seep into the drinking water, especially in older buildings.

hash-markIs NYC Tap Water Safe to Drink?

Yes, NYC tap water is safe to drink for most people. Unless you have some sort of allergy or dietary restriction that prevents you from ingesting some of the additives used to clean the water, you shouldn’t experience any health problems from drinking NYC tap water.

But if you want to take extra precautions to prevent contamination, you can always invest in a filtration system or pitcher to put in your refrigerator. This will ensure that the water you consume is pure and free of unwanted substances or flavors.

The other alternative is to purchase water bottles. The water used in bottles sold in the store is regulated differently from the water from the tap. Water bottles are regulated by the FDA, whereas the EPA regulates tap water. But both agencies have strict standards when it comes to the purity of the water. Not to mention, a good portion of bottled water comes from the same sources as tap water. It may have a different mineral composition or treatment process, but the end product is not much different. 

But, buying bottled water can get expensive and create a lot of wasted plastic that may end up in a landfill or the ocean. So, while bottled water can be a good temporary solution, it isn’t recommended for daily consumption.

No public water system is without its faults. But, NYC tap water is among the cleanest and most pure in the country. Of course, there are always actions you can take if you don’t like the taste or texture of the water. But in general, you shouldn’t experience any negative health consequences from consuming the water regularly.