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Problems We Found In New York City Water

 Kezia Snipe | Hydroviv Research Analyst

 

For Hydroviv’s assessment of New York City tap water, we aggregated water quality test data from New York City Environmental Protection, the water provider for America’s largest city, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as from samples that we collect and analyze.  We cross reference these data with toxicity studies in scientific and medical literature, and look at upcoming regulatory changes.  The water filters that Hydroviv offers are optimized with these numbers in mind.

Source Of New York City Drinking Water

New York City gets its drinking water from a surface supply system that comprises 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes spread across a nearly 2,000-square-mile watershed. The watershed is roughly the size of the State of Delaware, extending 125 miles north and west of New York City. The New York City Water Supply System, consists of three individual water supplies: the Catskill/Delaware supply, located in Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan, and Ulster counties; the Croton supply, New York City’s original upstate supply, in Putnam, Westchester, and Dutchess counties; and a groundwater supply in southeastern Queens.

Lead In New York City Drinking Water

Lead enters tap water through older lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. When corrosion control measures put in place by the municipality fail (like what recently happened in Flint, Michigan), lead leaches into the drinking water, and can reach dangerous levels.  Currently, 10% of samples analyzed for lead in New York City are 11 parts per billion. Though the city is currently in compliance with federal regulations, the EPA and CDC have both acknowledged that there is no safe level of lead, and federal regulations do not take into account levels measured at an individual tap.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that any taps used to serve children have lead levels no higher than 1 part per billion. 

Chromium 6 In New York City Drinking Water

Chromium 6 is an extremely toxic metal that is not currently regulated by the EPA. In recent years, New York City tap water has averaged 45 parts per trillion for Chromium 6. For the sake of perspective, these levels are 2.25 times higher than the concentration determined to have negligible impact on cancer risk

Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) In New York City Drinking Water

DBPs are a category of emerging contaminants that form when chlorine-based disinfectants react with naturally-occurring organic matter.  Although these chemicals are not currently regulated very well, the EPA has admitted that they are associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems.

Still Have Questions About New York City Tap Water?

Hydroviv is a water filtration company that uses water quality data to optimize water filters for each customer's water.  The contaminants that we list above are what we consider to be major “points of emphasis” that we use to build water filters that are built specifically for NYC, but our filters provide broad protection against a wide range of contaminants.

If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for NYC tap water, or just have questions about water quality in general, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com, reach out by email (hello@hydroviv.com) or through our live chat. We also frequently post water-related news on Twitter or Facebook.  We pride ourselves in being a reputable source of information on water quality, and your questions will be answered by scientists, not salespeople (we don't have any salespeople).

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Problems We Found In New York City's Drinking Water

Analies Dyjak | Policy Nerd 

For Hydroviv’s assessment of New York City’s drinking water quality issues, we collected water quality test data from the New York City Water Supply System 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 New York City’s drinking water.

Where Does New York City Source Its Drinking Water?

New York City gets its drinking water from 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes, located throughout the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountain watershed. The New York City Water Supply System delivers 1 billion gallons of drinking water to over 10 million people on a daily basis. In 2017, New York City received 97% of its water from the Catskill/Delaware supply located in Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan, and Ulser counties and 3% came from the Croton supply in Putnam, New York. New York City is known as the gold standard for drinking water treatment, and rightfully so because they are able to serve the largest metropolitan area in the United States. However, none of the pretreatment procedures matter once water hits aging infrastructure.

Lead In New York City’s Drinking Water

Lead enters tap water through old lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. Currently, 10% of the water quality samples analyzed by New York City Environmental Protection had lead concentrations over 11 parts per billion. The highest lead concentration detected from a residential tap was 190 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 between the ages of 0-5. Regulatory agencies are trying to lower the current standard of 15 parts per billion to 1 part per billion, so a concentration of 190 parts per billion is very concerning. To make matters worse, in a city of 8 million people only 487 residential homes were sampled for lead. 26 of those samples exceeded the federal Action Level. The small number of sampling sites is not representative of the actual scope of the lead problem in New York City. Hydroviv strongly encourages New York City residents to take advantage of the free lead testing program. Under this program, residents can request a free kit to test for lead in their drinking water by calling 311 or visiting www.nyc.gov/apps/311.

Chromium 6 In New York City's Drinking Water 

Chromium 6 is a highly toxic metal that is currently unregulated by the EPA. In recent years, New York City has had a major problem with this dangerous contaminant. Chromium 6 pollution is associated with metal processing, tannery facilities, chromate production, stainless steel welding, and pigment production. The 2017 water quality report for New York City found levels of Chromium 6 as high as 0.06 parts per billion, with an average concentration of 0.04 parts per billion. The state of California set their own health advisory level of 0.02 parts per billion because Chromium 6 is not regulated by the federal government. EPA has acknowledged that Chromium 6 is a known human carcinogen through inhalation, but is still determining its cancer potential through ingestion of drinking water. Lung, nasal and sinus cancers are associated with Chromium 6 exposure. Ingestion of extremely high doses of chromium 6 compounds can cause acute respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, hematological, hepatic, renal, and neurological distress which may result in death. 

Disinfection Byproducts In New York City's Drinking Water 

New York City Environmental Protection detected significant concentrations of Disinfection Byproducts or DBPs. 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 chlorine based disinfectants are routinely added to the water supply to kill bacteria. DBPs are split into two categories: Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and Haloacetic Acids-5 (HAA5). Concentrations were detected as high as 62 parts per billion and averaged 47 parts per billion for HAA5. The loose EPA stand for this contaminant is 60 parts per billion. 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.

If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for New York City’s tap water quality, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com to talk to a Water Nerd on our live chat feature or send us an email at hello@hydroviv.com.

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