This change in New York City’s tap water is hard to swallow. The city shut down the Catskill Aqueduct — which brings water from the Ashokan Reservoir in Ulster County to the Big Apple — this month for a 15-week repair project, leading to earthy compounds in our H20.
In other words, it tastes like dirt.
And it doesn’t smell that great either.
“These changes might cause some New Yorkers to notice that their drinking water tastes different,” the city Department of Environmental Protection says on its website. “The change in smell or taste might be unpleasant, but DEP can assure you that it is temporary, seasonal, and 100 percent harmless.”
The city received 29 complaints about water quality from Oct. 1 through Wednesday with some people griping about musty or stale odors and others describing it as tasting bitter or metallic.
The DEP says it’s only going to get worse as the weather changes and there is a seasonal decay of plants.
The agency said “two naturally occurring organic compounds” — called MIB and geosmin — “get into our water late in the year as aquatic plants and microorganisms living in our reservoirs begin to die until the next growing season.
“Human noses and taste buds can detect MIB at ultra-low concentrations. In fact, people who are sensitive to these compounds can detect them at concentrations as low as 10 parts per trillion … equal to 10 grains of sand in an Olympic swimming pool,” according to the DEP.
The decay is more pronounced in the Croton reservoirs east of the Hudson River because they are smaller and tend to be warmer and allow for more plant growth, the DEP said. With the Catskill Aqueduct closed, the Croton system, which normally provides just 10 percent of the city’s water, is now contributing up to 30 percent.
Valves and leaks in the Catskill Aqueduct pipeline need to be repaired to ensure it is in good working order for when the city closes the larger Delaware Aqueduct next year as part of a $1 billion repair project, according to the DEP.
The 85-mile long Delaware Aqueduct — a giant pipe nearly 20 feet in diameter in places and considered the world’s longest tunnel — will be shuttered for five to eight months. The pipe typically carries about half of the city’s water supply from Rondout Reservoir in Ulster County.
The Big Apple has long been considered to have the champagne of tap water — and some believe it’s the secret ingredient in making our superior pizza and bagels.
The DEP says there is little that will clear the temporary funk. Home filters won’t work, according to the agency which recommends leaving a pitcher of water overnight in the refrigerator or adding lemon juice to cut the taste.
The color of the water should remain clear. And not all of the city may get Croton water with distribution constantly shifting.
“We encourage residents to report any changes they notice to 311 during this temporary period of essential repairs and we thank our customers for their patience,” said Edward Timbers, a DEP spokesman.