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Posted on Jun 4, 2010

Monitoring New York City’s Quality Water is a Big Part of Their Success.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is in charge of the daunting task of providing fresh, clean water to nine million people. Because it is serving a metropolitan area that is the most densely populated in the nation, the priority of assuring a reliable and healthy water supply to this very important city is never taken for granted.

Not only does the DEP need to be on guard against routine forms of water contamination, it must be mindful of the possibility of environmental terrorism. Because New York is well known for being a top target for terrorism, the potential of the intentional poisoning of New York City’s water supply cannot be overlooked. That is why the heart of the mechanisms that the DEP must use and be ever vigilant about is the ongoing monitoring of the public water supply for New York City.

The New York DEP states that their water quality monitoring program is far more extensive than required by law in order to ensure that the quality of its tap water remains high. Certain water quality parameters are monitored continuously and water is also regularly tested at sampling points throughout the city. In 2008, the most recent year on record, the DEP collected more than 29,800 samples from the distribution system and performed more than 381,300 analyses.

A few of the samples were found to contain contaminants in excess of state and federal levels and this information was reported to water users accordingly. For example, the Croton water system sometimes experienced an excess of color due to seasonal water issues. There were a total of 10 violations during the period of October-December in that system. However, the DEP states that color has no health effects unless it is in a very high concentration, and it simply is seen as aesthetically objectionable. The Croton system also had higher than recommended levels of turbidity during this same period. The DEP were cited twice by the NY Department of Health for not conducting a follow-up sampling. Turbidity can suggest the presence of bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

Lead was found to be in excess in approximately 10 percent of sampled water. This includes at-the-tap testing, which shows increased levels not because of lead initially contaminating the water but by becoming contaminated as it goes through the pipes.

Testing for cryptosporidium and giardia cysts was done with 160 samples. Crypto was found in 18 and giardia was found in 111. However, this detection does not indicate whether these organisms were alive or potentially infectious. No outbreaks of disease caused by these organisms in tap water have been reported in New York City.

Despite this ongoing monitoring being done by the New York DEP and the EPA, it is always wise for individuals to invest in their own protection against any type of water contamination. The safest way to make sure everyone limits their exposure to the majority of these contaminants is by adding to your home or place of work a high-quality water filtration system like those produced by Aquasana. By using a filter, you know that you are doing all you can to eliminate what might slip through the public water system.

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