Safe to drink? Water quality after Sandy

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In the aftermath of Sandy, the quality of our tap water and water bodies is a cause for concern. As relief and restoration efforts continue, the resources below can keep you up to date on what’s coming in to our waterways–and out of our taps.

Notify NYC is a free notification system that provides emergency alerts, public health notifications, school closing advisories, and more. As of October 5th, NotifyNYC also provides vital information about our water quality by offering CSO (Combined Sewer Overflow) alerts. CSOs occur when a storm or excessive rainfall brings water above treatment plants’ capacity levels, causing untreated water to run directly into NYC’s waterways.

New York witnessed widespread CSOs with Superstorm Sandy’s arrival. During the storm, waters rose a record thirteen feet, flooding much of the city and many of our waste water treatment facilities. According to Governor Cuomo’s November 1 statement, twelve out of fourteen waste water treatment facilities reported flooding. Ten of those facilities reported “partially treated or untreated flows” since Monday October 29th, and as of November 1st, there are four facilities that still have “partially treated or untreated flows.” The Governor concluded that at this time there is “no accurate way to determine the amount of partially treated or untreated flows entering waterways.”

As a result, the Department of Environmental Protection released an advisory to avoid direct, recreational contact with NYC’s water bodies. This advisory was released on October 31st, and was relayed by NotifyNYC.

Despite the flooding and the warning, our tap water is still safe to drink. According to their website, the Department of Environmental Protection has “performed more than 3,000 tests on drinking water samples from throughout the city” and have deemed our water safe for drinking.

To learn more about our water sources, waste water treatment facilities, and reservoirs, visit NYC Environmental Protection or the Department of Environmental Protection. If you would like to stay updated with Notify NYC, you can register for free at their website,

Photo: Huffington Post