Although it can be a controversial topic, the government adds certain chemicals (fluoride, chlorine) to the public’s water for health reasons. While the presence of the chemicals in the water is widely regarded by industry professionals as safe and beneficial to public health, the amount of chemical that is actually in the water is hotly debated.
Bensonhurst native Barry reached out to us following the concerning results of a chlorine test he conducted on some local tap water recently. Here’s what Barry found:
I’ve lived in Bensonhurst my entire life and I’ve often heard about the high quality of New York City tap water. The Department of Environmental Protection’s latest water quality report begins with “New York City is fortunate to have some of the cleanest and best-tasting drinking water of any city in the world.” I had this in mind last summer when I decided to follow FEMA’s recommendation to “store at least one gallon per person, per day” and “a two-week supply of water for each member of your family” for emergencies.
I bought a 15 gallon water barrel and read that chlorinated water (which we have in NYC) can be stored for up to 6 months. The World Health Organization says the “free chlorine” level should be between 0.2 and 0.5 mg/l (ppm). I bought a free chlorine test kit to be sure it was. I figured I was all set and soon I’d have my 15 gallons of free, high quality emergency water.
If there was any free chlorine in my tap water, it must have been below the .05 ppm sensitivity of the test strips in my kit. This could be explained by dirty plumbing in my building using up whatever free chlorine there was before the water reached my tap. I could have added some drops of regular household bleach before storage (some recommendations call for 8 drops per gallon), but I decided to try the park water fountain across the street.
Success! It was the summertime, when tap water is known to be dirtiest, but frequent use of water makes it cleaner and the park sprinklers were on 24/7. There was plenty of chlorine…until the end of the summer when the sprinklers were off.
It seems the Department of Environmental Protections is aware of the issue of the lack of chlorine in the water in some areas. Their water quality report — the same one that brags about the cleanest and best tasting water — shows that the level of “Chlorine Residual, Free” varied in the 15,550 samples taken from 0.00 to 1.8 mg/L. If the CDC is correct that “The presence of free chlorine in drinking water is correlated with the absence of most disease-causing organisms, and thus is a measure of the potability of water” then those samples in which zero chlorine was found indicate a public health issue that the city should address.