Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Where does NYC Tap Water Come From?
New York City water comes from 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes in a 1,972 square-mile watershed located in Southeastern New York State. Water is collected in these reservoirs from rain and snow, then travels to NYC through tunnels and aqueducts after being treated.
The NYC watershed is divided into three parts, with most of our water coming from the Catskill and Delaware Watersheds. This water is very high quality and consistently meets federal and state drinking water standards without the need for filtration. See below for a map of the NYC watershed.
How Do I Know NYC Tap Water is Safe?
Scientists from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) routinely monitor NYC water quality. To ensure that our water is safe to drink, the New York State Department of Health requires 90% of water samples from residential taps to contain less than 15 µg/L of lead. NYC drinking water has consistently met the existing water safety guidelines. You can view the 2015 Drinking Water Supply and Quality Report to learn more.
Where Does Lead in Drinking Water Come From?
Lead can come from multiple sources, including plumbing materials. There is no lead in the reservoirs that serve New York City, and the water is treated to prevent lead from leaching into the water supply from plumbing. However, if water sits stagnant in the pipes for several hours, some lead can leach into the water from the plumbing. It’s a good idea to run your tap water before drinking until the temperature is noticeably colder in order to flush out the water that was sitting in the pipes. Only use cold tap water for drinking and cooking. Get more information about lead and how to reduce your exposure here.
How Can I Get My Water Tested?
The NYC Department of Environmental Protection offers free water testing kits. To find a certified testing lab near you, please click here. Healthy Babies Bright Futures also offers water testing kits for a sliding-scale fee and the opportunity to donate a testing kit to a household in need.
What Steps Can I Take At Home to Protect My Family from Lead Poisoning?
Take a look at these simple steps to prevent lead exposure from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Peeling lead paint and paint dust found in ageing homes (built before 1978) are the most common methods of exposure within the home.
Should I be Worried About Lead in Drinking Water in My Child’s School?
Beginning in 2002, the NYC Department Of Education (DOE) partnered with NYC Department Of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency to test the water in DOE school buildings. Currently, in every NYC public school built before the 1986 ban on lead in construction, the water has been tested for lead, and the vast majority are confirmed negative. You can visit this page to find the water testing results for each school. If members of your school community are concerned about lead in drinking water, EPA has created a Training, Testing, Telling (3 Ts) Toolkit and in-depth guide to provide school officials and child care facility operators with the tools they need to understand and address lead in drinking water in their local communities.
Where Can I Find Additional Information?
The Environmental Protection Agency offers basic information about lead in drinking water and state water quality standards. Comprehensive lead resources are also available on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU) websites.
Drinking Water FAQ And Tips from CDC
Safe Drinking Water Hotline: 1-800-426-4791
For information about NJ drinking water, please click here
Updated information on water testing in Newark Public Schools
Search by state to view elevated lead levels in tap water supply (map at bottom of article)
American Academy of Pediatrics Press Release: FDA Announcement on using Magellan LeadCare Testing Systems
“Now is the time to end the profound immorality of lead poisoning in America. We have the science. We know how to do the job. What we need is leadership, courage and political will.” –Dr. Phil Landrigan, Mount Sinai Hospital
Children’s Lead Exposure (3/2016)
“The water crisis in Flint, Mich., has crystallized our attention on lead pipes, but the fact is that hundreds of thousands of children across the United States face a daily threat of lead poisoning from many sources.” –Jennifer Lowry, American Academy of Pediatrics
Is Your Water Safe to Drink? (3/2016)
“Unfortunately, lead poisoning is still with us. The predominant source of exposure is old, lead-based paint found inside deteriorating homes, but another source is aging water pipes that contain lead, as residents of the city of Flint, Michigan now know all too well.” –Dr. Phil Landrigan, Mount Sinai Hospital
“But in most cities, the lead threat is confined largely to poor neighborhoods with scant political clout. There is little official urgency — and increasingly, little money — to address it.”
Risk Factors Associated With Lead (2/2016)
“Dr. Maida Galvez, an associate professor of preventive medicine and pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, said though lead has been phased out of plumbing materials, gasoline and household paint way back in the 1970s and 1980s, it is something to be wary of.”
America Is Flint (2/2016)
“We are indeed all Flint,” says Dr. Philip Landrigan, a professor of preventive medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Lead poisoning continues to be a silent epidemic in the United States.”
“Children absorb lead more easily than adults do, and it can interfere with their brain and nervous system development, especially if they are under the age of six.”
“Is this the beginning of something or just a normal stage for a toddler?” Christine asks. “From now on, I guess that’s the question.”
It’s Not Just Flint That’s Poisoned (1/2016)
“I think it’s perfectly appropriate to rally around Flint,” says Philip Landrigan, a pediatrician and dean for global health at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. “But people need to realize that Flint is not an isolated example and there are places that are even worse. It’s happening all over the country and it’s tightly tied to race, ethnicity and economic circumstances.”
“The most recent federal data, from surveys conducted between 2009 and 2012, shows that black children are nearly twice as likely as white children to have elevated blood-lead levels. Children living in poverty are four times more likely than their wealthier peers.”
“The problem here is, no level of lead is safe.” –Dr. Phil Landrigan, Mount Sinai Hospital