Big Apple has New York’s Cleanest Water While Long Island has the Worst: Report

Matthew McGrath
May 29, 2019 , 4:30pm

You can go from Niagara to Montauk but you won’t find better drinking water than in the Big Apple, according to a new study.

In fact, the safeguards put in place by New York City to protect its water supply should be used as a model for the state, according to the NY Public Interest Research Group report released this week.

The city has a unique source-water protection program that limits development near its upstate reservoirs and watershed, and works to keep pollution from septic systems and farming chemicals away from the water sources.

“Nowhere else in New York State is there another program like that,” said Liz Moran, the NYPIRG environmental policy director.

The same cannot be said for one of New York’s closest suburban areas. Long Island’s Nassau and Suffolk counties had the largest number of emerging contaminants among the public water systems in the state. Among the pollutants in Long Island’s water is 1,4 dioxane, which was detected in some locations above the EPA’s reference concentrations.

The critical difference between the five boroughs and Long Island is where the water is coming from and how it’s protected.

Public water systems throughout Long Island draw water from wells sunk in sandy soils that are easily polluted while Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and The Bronx draw water from protected upstate reservoirs. And 1,4 dioxane is a direct legacy of Long Island’s industrial past when the chemical was widely used as a solvent.

Low levels of exposure to 1,4-dioxane can cause developmental effects to fetuses, thyroid disorders, ulcerative colitis, high cholesterol, preeclampsia, and kidney and testicular cancers, according to the report.

Throughout the state, 23 emerging contaminants, including those known to cause health problems, have been found in the drinking water for 16 million people. Not all of the contaminants are known.

Another 6.4 million people who get their water from private wells or small public systems have not been tested at all, so they don’t know what’s in their water.

Among the recommendations made by NYPIRG is that the state take a proactive approach to testing and water source protection and a database of contaminants in public water systems should be implemented.

Source: New York Post