New York City Tap Water: High Quality or E Coli?


New York City tap water quality holds a special place in the hearts and minds of many.

Described as one of the most pristine beverages on the planet – New York City’s drinking water is considered by most as more than just tasty – but also healthy and safe.  Many even consider it the primary reason that food ranging from Brooklyn Bagels to a slice of New York City pizza is so hard to replicate anywhere else.

So why is it that when drinking water was tested in twelve buildings in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, eight buildings tested positive for coliform bacteria, and five tested positive for E. Coli – making the water unfit for human consumption?  The answer lies not in the water’s source, but in the journey that tap water must take before it pours through a faucet to become drinking water.

This week, The New York Times published the results of a troubling investigation, a video of which you can see above.  The investigation, which provided the results of drinking water tests from the aforementioned twelve buildings, shared the path that water must take before transforming into hydration for residents.

While New York City’s tap water may begin as a high quality beverage when it is gravity pumped from crystal clear waterways upstate, it still must travel through miles of pipes – some of which are the pipes in classic New York City apartment buildings.

“Lead is the most common reason that you run into a water problem in New York,” says occupational medicine specialist Marc Wilkenfeld, M.D., director of the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola.  For those that live in older buildings, with plumbing to match, lead is a clear and present danger every time a water faucet is turned on.

WS-425W WaterSafe Water Test Kit
Tests tap water for lead, bacteria and more

Lead is one thing, but E. Coli is a completely different matter.  As shared in the video above, fecal matter from animals is the one and only way for E. Coli to exist.  Everything from deteriorated roofs on water tanks – the most common way for larger apartment buildings to store drinking water – to infestation by animals and even squatting by humans can all be contributors to this problem.

Here’s the frustrating part – to rid most New York City tap water from significant contamination risk would cost as little as a few hundred dollars.  This is the approximate cost of cleaning and disinfecting an apartment building’s water tank, which by regulation, should be happening at least once per year.

Instapure F8 Faucet Filter
Instapure F8 Faucet Filter – reduces lead

So what should New York City residents do?  It may seem like a small cost for the city to clean and disinfect water tanks (and it is) but demanding that the work be done is not something that will happen overnight.

Fortunately, there are several drinking water filtration options that are open to you – including faucet filters and refrigerator water filters – that we are happy to offer on our site.  And just so you don’t think we are veering into self-promotion, both types of solutions were endorsed in the article linked to above featuring Dr. Wilkenfeld’s insight.

Before you make a decision on the drinking water filtration system you need, we would recommend first investing a small amount in a Water Test Kit.  While Dr. Wilkenfeld suggests that the results of these tests can be inconclusive, the kit pictured above represents a small investment (under $25) that will provide you with, in the experience of our team and our customers, enough actionable data to guide your filter decision.

If the only element of concern in your drinking water is lead, perhaps the most common impurity in New York City tap water, either a faucet filter system – like the Instapure F8 faucet filter above – or even a consistently changed refrigerator water filter – a common Samsung replacement filter from our Tier1 line is pictured below – will meet most of your needs.

DA29-00003G Samsung Comparable Refrigerator Water Filter Replacement By Tier1
DA29-00003G Samsung Comparable Refrigerator Water Filter Replacement By Tier1 – reduces lead

On the other hand, if your drinking water comes back positive for bacteria – or just comes out of the tap yellow – a slightly bigger investment is strongly recommended.  The Doulton countertop water filter system below is proven to reduce all but the smallest trace of E. Coli, while sitting tucked away in its own small part of your counter.  If countertop space is at a premium, the right combination of undersink water filtration system and filter – including this ceramic filter cartridge and ceramic filter housing from Doulton – can also help to reduce this harmful contaminant.

When deciding on a water filtration system, remember that all systems – and even all water filters – are built differently.  Always read through all of the specs offered on a system or a filter before you purchase to ensure it helps to reduce the impurities found in your own drinking water supply.  All packaging will include details on these specs, as will product pages on DiscountFilterStore.com.  If you suspect that your water could be unsafe to drink – whether due to smell, taste or odd yellow coloring – we recommend that you have it tested before and after installing a drinking water filtration system or filter.

Of course, if you have trouble finding what you need, you are always welcome to call our customer service team at 1-800-277-3458 with any questions.

W9361122 Doulton Countertop Water Filter System
Doulton Countertop Water Filter System – reduces E. Coli

If you live in New York City, we would love to hear your thoughts on the quality of your drinking water, especially in light of the recent investigation by The New York Times.  We would also welcome hearing any solutions you may have already implemented to combat some of the more common impurities in your drinking water.  Please feel free to leave a comment below.

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