Can you drink tap water in New York City? Worry about chlorine, lead, pharmaceuticals or other substances in your local tap water? What is the best water filter for NYC? In this article we will try to answer all your questions about New York tap water.
Does NYC have the best tap water?
Ever wondered what makes New York pizza so special? What is the secret behind this deliciously unique slice of pizza?
Some simply call it “NYC tap water”, while others put it on a pedestal and coin it as the “champagne of tap water”. Whatever you want to call it, rest assured that New York City has one of the better tap water qualities in America. New Yorkers are part of an elite group of municipalities along with Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland with unfiltered water supply.
Despite this high quality of water, Chlorine is added to the water to disinfect it during distribution. New York also has some of the oldest buildings in America, which means that no matter how much effort is put into the water, if your pipes leach lead, it will end up in your drinking water. Furthermore microplastics have been found in all samples of tap water and bottled water in NY.
So if you want to remove Chlorine, microplastics and lead and make the best New York Pizza from the comfort of your own home, using a carbon block filter could be the solution. See our guide: Best Water Filter.
Where does NYC tap water come from?
The Catskill and Delaware watersheds in the upstate New York provide more than 90% of the city’s water supply. The rest comes from the Croton watershed.
New Yorkers’ beloved watershed water is so clean, that New York is one of few municipalities not required by law to filter its water (although it is disinfected by UV exposure). Where the quality degrades, is during distribution. The local distribution network which uses chloramine as a disinfectant and aging pipes inside buildings can bring unwanted flavors and potential lead-related health-risks, especially for children.
What is in NYC tap water and who regulates it?
In the U.S, tap water is regulated by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), while bottled water which is a packaged good, is regulated by the FDA. Although both the EPA and FDA have similar quality standards, FDA standards are looser in terms of how often bottled water needs to be tested and they do not require companies to share their test results with consumers.
Conclusion: If you want to know the exact composition of your water then switching to tap water is the cheapest way. Just download the free water quality report from NYCs website.
The EPA guidelines are strict but EWG (Environmental Working Group) - a non profit organization, have set their own tougher guidelines, referred to as health guidelines. Visit the EWG website for the detailed list of contaminants in your zip code.
According to the EWG report, 6 cancerogenous contaminants above health guidelines were found in “New York City System” water. All are below the legal limit set by the EPA and they are Bromodichloromethane, Chloroform, Chromium 6, Dichloroacetic acid, Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and Trichloroacetic acid. These can be grouped as 3 THMs, 2 HAAs and lastly Chromium. Reducing these will reduce possible long-term health risks. Moreover, according to water research by OrbMedia microplastics were found in 94% of all tap water in the United States.
In summary, tap water in NYC is legally safe to drink but to be on the safe side, use an affordable water filter in NYC. TAPP removes chloramine and other agents associated with foul taste and odor, microplastics as well as lead and heavy metals which can deposit via poorly maintained pipes in your building. Active carbon also removes TTHMs and HAAs and vastly reduces Chromium 6 highlighted as a risk by EWG.
Drinking water in public places and restaurants
Unfortunately, there is no law requiring restaurants to serve their customers tap water for free, most do it as a courtesy. In some very rare cases, servers have been reported to refuse serving tap water, but this shouldn’t worry you. Almost any restaurant you go to will ask as a default if you want sparkling water, bottled water or tap. As for bars, you can also get free water, just remember you’ll still need to tip even if you don’t order any other food/drinks.
Moreover, when you are on the go, you can always use one of the water fountains and bottle refilling stations provided by the City of New York, most of which are currently located in Brooklyn. Take a reusable bottle with you, and fill it up. The City plans on having a total of 500 of such stations by 2025. Additionally, the City installs temporary refill stations in all 5 boroughs throughout the summer (June - September) as part of the NYC Water-On-the-Go program. Alternatively, you can use the MyTAPP app (iOS and Android) to find refill stations around you.
Did you know that every year, New Yorkers buy 1 billion bottled waters? Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, Fiji, Mountain Valley, Pure Life, and Smartwater are some of the most popular bottled waters. But don’t be fooled, the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) concluded that an estimated 25 percent or more of bottled water is just filtered water from public supplies, at a premium price.
Not only is bottled water a waste of money, it also contributes to the general pollution of our planet. In 2017, New Yorkers only recycled a third of their waste - below the national average and far behind a city like Seattle which recycles over 60% of its garbage. Luckily, Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to change this and pledged that New York would send “zero waste” to landfills by 2030.
Until then, if you don’t want your plastic bottle to end up in a landfill, in the ocean, (or in Kentucky to generate energy) carry a reusable water bottle with you. If you must buy a water bottle, make sure that the said bottle displays a New York refund label to be redeemed. Commonly known as the “Bottle Bill”, the “New York State Returnable Container Act” requires a 5¢ deposit on plastic bottles that hold less than a gallon. As a consumer, you can get your 5¢ back at any store which carries the product, even if you didn’t make your purchase there.
Do you need a water filter in NYC?
The water that is supplied into the New York water pipe system is safe to drink. However, old pipes that run through the streets and pipes in old buildings may leech lead and other heavy metals. There's also a risk of chlorine by-products when chlorine mixes with organic materials. Finally there's unregulated contaminants such as microplastics that may have negative health effects. Therefore using a water filter in NYC is a good safety measure if you have a family with young children or worry about tap water quality in general.
What is the best water filter for NYC tap water? Here's the good part. Thanks to recent innovation in water filtration all you need is a high quality faucet filter to remove all common contaminants. A great example of this is EcoPro. With TAPP, you have zero plastic residue. When it’s time to change the filter only throw away the interior filter and the rest is reused.
Buy EcoPro as "Flo Faucet filter on Amazon in the US for $39 right now (price may differ).
Read more about How water filters work
- Water in NYC comes from the Catskill Mountains and is one of the cleanest in the nation
- Bottled water is one of the biggest food and health scams in recent history. It’s a waste of money and our nature.
- If you don’t like the taste of NYC tap water or are worried about reducing TTHMs, HHAs, Chromium, or lead, get a high-quality water filter in NYC such as TAPP.
- Ask for tap water in restaurants and never feel ashamed about it.
- Get a refillable bottle and keep it filled up with fresh tap water. There are hundreds of refill station across all 5 boroughs
- Refuse bottled water whenever possible, or look for “New York refund label” and bring it to a store which sells the same product, they have to take it for recycling.
Do you drink tap water in NYC? We want your feedback and opinion. Agree or disagree? Tell us!