If You’re Tasting ‘Mildew’ In the Tap Water, It’s Not Just You


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.

NEWS | 68 comments | permalink
    1. Elizabeth says:

      I live on 80th, and my water has a weird taste as well. I thought of it more as a dirt taste than mildew. The water used to taste so great.

    2. Steve says:

      74th and Amsterdam – we went to a ramen place down the street, and the water tasted of mildew. Nothing in our building … yet.

    3. Ruby in Manhattan says:

      I’m still tasting it, for a week or so now. Bought a PUR filter system and it helps improve test. What I don’t get is why no one else in my building has reported a problem. It is definitely reassuring to know others have the issue and that the water may not cause any harm. I’d been using bottled water and boiling the water.

    4. MR says:

      I taste it today on west 72nd street and on 99th st.

    5. Ellen Rautenberg says:

      Mine has been tasting like chlorine for a few days.

    6. I make coffee in the morning using the same blend. For several weeks no matter how many cups of water or spoonfuls of coffee I used, it didn’t taste right until three days ago. I also noticed that the water, despite my two filters, had a brownish color. It’s clear now and I hope it stays that way!

    7. Joyce says:

      Yes, I’m tasting it and was planning on asking our super since I thought it might be a building issue. (66th St.) Thank you for this article and keep us posted.

    8. Mary-Lou Leddy says:

      Noticed the mildew taste about 3 days ago-truly nasty. I am in Lincoln Towers. Thanks for clarifying the issue. Any idea if the city cares or should we just hope for a reversal?

    9. Pat says:

      I actually never complain about the water but just since yesterday I thought my water tasted terrible and thought it was due to the fact that I just Chanes my water filter on my refrigerator. Sooo interesting that I just read this article and my taste is verified
      Hope it gets resolved!!!
      I live at 82 and CPW

    10. Billy Amato says:

      I live on W. 80th St. I think the water is great. I have tested it several times since this report came out and it and it test negative.
      Fresh clean and cold!
      New York City water is the best water in the world!

    11. Mika says:

      I don’t taste it but I keep smelling a strong chlorine odor that had not been there before.

    12. M.Y. says:

      Hi,

      For 2 weeks, I’ve had an “earthy” smell, similar to that of wet plant soil, which is most noticeable in the hot water in my kitchen. I never drink tap water so I can’t confirm what it tastes like. I just notified 311, which forwarded my complaint to the DEP.

    13. DL says:

      I’m at 86th and Broadway. The mildew taste in the water is strong here. The steam from the hot water even smells like mildew. Didn’t know until I read this other locations are having the same issue. Thanks for the post. It helps to know it isn’t just this building.

    14. lynn says:

      I’m on 72nd and noticed the mildew smell a couple of days ago but when I came home from work tonight and turned on the shower my entire apt smelled like chlorine. Thanks for the heads up!

    15. Shirley Ruskin says:

      On W. 90th Street, I’ve been getting a strong taste of chlorine for about a week. I usually drink just plain old NY tap water but since this started I’ve gotten a Brita filtering set-up which is helping a lot.

    16. I just complained today about a moldy taste at two different drinking fountains at the Columbia University gym.

    17. LK says:

      You might want to read this NY Post article from a year ago, which explains how water source switch affects the taste of NYC water.

      https://nypost.com/2018/10/13/why-new-york-citys-water-tastes-so-gross-now/

    18. Ken says:

      I live on w89th and I’ve noticed the mildew odor for at least two weeks. It’s worse with hot water, I began to notice when turning on the shower.

    19. Susan says:

      I taste it. I’m on West 57th Street

    20. Joel says:

      Mildew taste at our place for a few days now—128th & Fifth.

    21. DrM says:

      Definitely tasting it in the coffee I get – on Hudson and Christopher! At least now I feel like I can mention it to the shop with some real info to back me up!

    22. Joan says:

      I am in Lincoln Towers and the water tastes funny the last few days.

    23. Amy Lang says:

      Our water–72nd near Columbus–still tastes awful, like mildew. Glad to hear the DEP knows about it–but NOT reassured

    24. Vivian Ducat says:

      There was a mildew smell coming out of the grate in the street on RSD and 157th Street tonight

    25. Diane says:

      Water still doesn’t taste great at 66th and Broadway. I hope it gets resolved soon.

    26. George Simpson says:

      We live at 106th & Broadway. We’ve noticed an unpleasant taste in our tap water recently. Hope it gets ‘remediated’ soon as our water usually tastes very good. Please register this complaint with the DEP.

    27. Debbie Kling says:

      I live on West End Avenue in the 80’s and I’ve noticed the mildew taste as well.

    28. Dale says:

      My daughter just mixed tap water with a Snapple powder mix and she said this water smells like mold. I thought she was crazy until I smelled it and that’s EXACTLY what it smelled like. Think I’ll also report it to 311.

    29. Megan R says:

      Yes, I have noticed this as well recently! Maybe for about the past twoish weeks? At 106th and Columbus.

    30. Elaine says:

      There has been a change in the taste of my water whether directly from the tap or refrigerated. There is a distinct earthy after taste. I am writing from the UES.

    31. Barbara says:

      I live at 115 St. and Riverside and have not been able to
      drink the tap water for the past three weeks because
      of the “dirt taste.” Even my Brita filter will not remove
      the strong foul taste. This has never happened before.

    32. 311 says:

      So why are people complaining here call 311!!!!!

    33. Lars Larsen says:

      Yep, water tasting like dirt here at 84th St.

    34. Matt says:

      We also taste it for the last week or so up at 106th st and west end!

    35. Pauline Sehgal says:

      Yes! My water has been tasting funny all week long! I’m on Riverside Blvd between 63rd and 64th streets. I think what the DEP said is not particularly reassuring. I hope all is okay because I love NYC tap water and drink it all the time unlike my friends who drink bottled water. If this persists, I will have to switch to bottled water. I don’t trust the taste!

    36. Chase says:

      I’m so glad this was posted. I’m on the UES and my tap also has a mildewy smell as well as an earthy taste.
      While around Brighton Beach, my school’s drinking fountains taste fine.

    37. George Brooks says:

      Yes! Noticeably bad, dirty tase. Reminds me of the water I won’t drink in India. 107th and Broadway

    38. Jane says:

      171st street, thought I was crazy but then I saw this!

    39. Sam says:

      Still tasting and smelling mildew in the water. I was wondering if it was my building’s pipes. I’m on West 72 St. This info is very helpful. Thanks!

    40. Rachel says:

      Tap water in Dumbo also tastes like mildew. As for the reassuring nature of the info provided by DEP, on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best, I’d give the info a 1 at best. The wishy washy nature of DEP’s it could be this or it could be that answers do not inspire much confidence.

    41. C_NYC says:

      Water still tasting bad at Broadway and 66th on Wednesday 11/27

    42. Joyce says:

      I filled out the 311 online form about this and someone called from the DEP about an hour later explaining that the problem is water from the Croton reservoir experiencing seasonal turnover, i.e. we’re getting water from the bottom. It is safe and should end in about a week. I was very impressed with customer service — didn’t expect to hear back so quickly or from someone in DEP. Also found this map online which shows current water sources, albeit not very detailed: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dep/water/current-water-distribution.page

    43. Lincoln10023 says:

      I always thought that our water is gravity fed and it flows down from upstate to Manhattan. So, how does “flushing the system at 60th street” affect someone at 95th street? You would have to pump the water up about 1.5 miles. Doesn’t sound plausible but maybe Ms. Rosenthal can provide an explanation.

    44. Lori says:

      I taste it at my apartment on west 57th st as well as at a restaurant on west 46th st.

    45. Carly P says:

      I’m tasting the mildew, I’m on W 102nd St. I’m pregnant and wondered if it was just an overactive sense of smell/taste, but sounds like I’m not alone.

    46. ER says:

      Problems with taste at 123rd and Amsterdam as well.

    47. Mark says:

      Still tasting it at 102nd street and Broadway.

    48. Nancy Montgomery says:

      We’ve noticed the mildew taste, too, at 81st and Broadway.

    49. Lisa says:

      We are noticing at 108th street. Ugh.

    50. Brian says:

      This is what is called a placebo effect. All it takes is a few people to make a comment and suddenly everyone will believe it. If someone said the water had a taste of marshmallows hundreds of people would call in with the same claim,

      • lynn says:

        It never fails, there’s always SOMEONE! If it’s not happening to them then it’s not happening at all. The smell of chlorine is unmistakeable, especially if it’s permeating your entire (small) apartment. Marshmallows would be an improvement. :p

      • Christine E says:

        My husband noticed it since yesterday, and he does not read WSR.

    51. Gia Stern says:

      I do notice the taste varies. Sometimes like chlorine, somethings like nothing and sometimes like dirt. But boy oh boy, when that dirt taste comes through – eek, especially if you let the water sit for a while. I live in the lower 100’s and Amsterdam btw.

    52. julie says:

      It’s a plot to wipe out the UWS so that the tourists can take over during the inflation of the balls!
      Meanwhile does anyone know if there’s been a report from the City to put our minds at ease?
      I’m on the Far West Side in the 60’s .. The water tastes Awful.

    53. Etc says:

      Yup, been tasting it for weeks. It’s pretty gross. Hurts to go from pristine water to some of the more awful tasting in the US! UWS ~ 111th st.

    54. M Calderhead says:

      Could a metallic taste be mildew?
      I’ve been tasting “funny” water for about 6 or 7 months, off and on.

    55. Nadi says:

      Thank you. I’ve been tasting this mildew taste in my tap water for over one week. I’ve been boiling it before drinking. Is there no boil water notice though?

    56. Ira Gershenhorn says:

      For the past two years I’ve always drunk tap water with something mixed in so never noticed. I just tried it. Yuck! 12 years ago I took NYC water to my job in Rye because that water tasted like pond scum to me. Now its pond scum out of my tap too. 104th and Riverside Drive.

    57. Maya says:

      I live in 112th street and the water tastes moldy.

    58. Dawn Murphy says:

      Live in Hell’s Kitchen and water still has a mildew taste.

      • HelenD says:

        I was waiting (2 weeks now) to see if the odor went away. I just assumed it was the plumbing in the building. At first it smelled like Clorox and now it smells like a rotting potato cellar. Does anyone else notice the change, or any dissipation at all?

    59. Shannon says:

      Tasting like chlorine on Wall Street!

    60. Leslie says:

      I was visiting NYC at 104th and Central Park West for the weekend – definitely noticed a mildew or moldy taste to the water.

    61. Meryl Ranzer says:

      Tasting it in Harlem. It’s gross. I don’t feel reassured by DEP comments.

    62. Columbus&Broadway says:

      I have been tasting it on 69th Street. Just before leaving town for Thanksgiving I started buying bottled water!

      Do we know if the water will ever be back to normal? it was so good!

    63. Val M. says:

      At W. 116th and Manhattan Ave for 7.5 years. Never have we had dank tasting water till now. Filed a complaint with 311 4 days ago.

    64. John says:

      10th and Ave A – the water smells/tastes like mildew and has for several days (7+ days) now.