New York, New York
What is the Water Quality in New York City?
Compared to other US cities, New York City water quality ranks in the middle range for contamination excluding Lead.
Most of their 18 contaminants have cancer-causing attributes.
- Chloroform is at extremely high levels: 80x health guidelines.
- Haloacetic acids (HAA5) is at extremely high levels: 379x health guidelines.
- Haloacetic acids (HAA9) is at extremely high levels: 892x health guidelines.
Let’s look closer at what’s in New York City water.
What’s in New York City water?
Here are the top 5 chemical compounds in your water and what health issues they can potentially cause:
- Bromodichloromethane – Potential effect: Cancer
- Chloroform – Potential effect: Cancer
- Haloacetic acids – Potential effect: Cancer
- Hexavalent Chromium – Potential effect: Cancer
- Total trihalomethanes – Potential effect: Cancer
These are five of the 18 contaminants analyzed by the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org).
10 of these contaminants are rated as exceeding EWG Health Guidelines.
Does NYC have Lead contamination?
Yes, New York City has lead in its water. The most recent Lead samples collected in 2018 showed concentrations up to 11.0 parts per billion (ppb).
The legal limit for lead is 15 parts per billion. Being well-below this level is a good thing.
- Concentrations between 3.8 ppb and 15 ppb put a formula-fed baby at risk of elevated blood lead levels. Read more about the symptoms of Lead in water.
There is no safe level of lead for humans.
- The good news is that 99.99% of the lead can be removed.
See the What Can You Do? section below to learn how to filter out contaminants.
Where does New York’s water come from?
New York’s water comes from the East River – Hudson River watershed.
12 of the 13 EPA assessed water sources in the East River – Hudson River watershed are in Impaired or Unknown condition. These include:
- East River
- Harlem Meer
- Harlem River
- Hudson River – 3 segments
- Jerome Park Reservoir
- Newtown Creek
- Ridgewood Reservoir
- The Lake in Central Park
- Upper New York Bay – 2 segments
Ideally, a water source would be rated in Good condition. Central Park Reservoir is in Good condition.
Whether a water source is in Impaired or Good condition refers to the quality of these uses:
- Drinking Water
- Aquatic Life
- Fish and Shellfish Consumption
Learn more from How’s My Waterway
See below for what you can do to improve your drinking water.
What Can You Do?
Information about water quality in New York City can be surprising.
But there are things you can do in your home to clean up your water.
To Remove Lead and Other Contaminants In Your Home:
There is one solution that beats Brita, PUR, and expensive whole house systems.
- It costs less per gallon.
- Needs fewer filter changes.
- And it doesn’t make your water taste weird.
- Use Berkey filters with activated carbon to filter out 90% of contaminants in your drinking water.
- Berkey filters can also remove up to 99.99% of Lead in New York City water.
- Brita can filter 10 contaminants and Lead depending on the filter.
- Note: We may receive a commission if you decide to purchase filters through links on this page.
- To filter out 16 of the 18 contaminants in your whole house, consider a Reverse Osmosis water filtration system for your home.
- These are more expensive than pitchers to purchase, but can be more effective.
- They have the benefit of filtering out heavy hitters like:
- 1,4-Dioxane – “Exposure may cause damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys.”
- Bromodichloromethane – health risks in drinking water
- Chloroform – side effects
- Chromium (total)
- Dichloroacetic acid
- Haloacetic acids – chlorination byproduct*
- Hexavalent chromium – health effects
- Monochloroacetic acid
- Total trihalomethanes – byproduct of chlorination*
- Trichloroacetic acid
*Chlorination is an effective method of disinfecting/treating drinking water. You can then use a water filter to reduce the effects of chlorination byproducts to get the safest, cleanest water possible.
In Your Community:
Contact your local government officials and put pressure on them to invest in cleaner waterways and upgraded city water filtration and treatment.
Go to: https://www1.nyc.gov/ to find contact information for your local officials.