Photo by Shaylor.
Anecdotal reports from local residents about a “mildew” taste in their tap water turn out to be relatively widespread in the city right now. Amy Wilson tells us she’s had a “strong taste” of mildew in the water at her apartment on 99th Street for about five days. Another reader on 95th said the same thing. And since we posed the question on Monday about the taste, we’ve heard from people throughout the neighborhood — 66th, 72nd and 89th Streets too — and in other parts of Manhattan too that their water is tasting funny.
The Department of Environmental Protection told us that the number of complaints has been rising. “On Monday there were 22 reports and thus far today there have been six reports,” spokesman Edward Timbers wrote on Tuesday afternoon. “Typically there are about 5 reports to 311 regarding tap water per day.”
Council Member Helen Rosenthal wrote to a constituent who asked about the taste and told him that the taste may be related to the fact that “They were flushing the system around 60th street due to some Con Ed street work…”
Beyond any system-flushing, however, the change in taste may also have to do with a change in the source of the water. Water comes to Manhattan from upstate reservoirs — Croton, Catskill and Delaware — and the mix of water from each of the 19 reservoirs that serve the city changes regularly — sometimes on an hourly basis. (The water is treated after being pumped out of the reservoirs.) Gothamist reports that the Catskill reservoir has been out of service since October 10 and could be out of service for several more weeks.
“As the seasons change in the City’s upstate watershed this can affect the natural mixing of water within the City’s reservoirs and DEP scientists are following this closely and making operational adjustments to ensure that the best possible water is being delivered to the 8.6 million residents of the city,” Timbers wrote.
DEP had also told Gothamist last year that the change to an “earthier” taste could be traced to runoff from recent rains into the reservoir.
NYC tap water is tested more than 650,000 times a year “to ensure it is of the highest quality,” according to DEP.
Let us know if you’re still tasting it — and if this info from the DEP is reassuring or not particularly helpful.