The city's water supply is now subject to a revolutionary treatment method aimed at better protecting New Yorkers. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.
WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. - The water you drink and bathe in is now safer than ever, according to city and state officials.
"There is no water as good as New York water," said Dr. Howard Zucker, New York State First Deputy Health Commissioner.
Since September of last year, the city's largely unfiltered water supply has been moving through an added layer of protection: ultraviolet light.
"We're marking the substantial completion of the Catskills-Delaware Ultraviolet Disinfection Facility, the largest ultraviolet treatment facility in the world," says Carter Strickland, commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Protection.
The facility, located in Westchester County, took seven years to build. Its main purpose is to kill naturally occurring microorganisms like Giardia and to inactivate Cryptosporidium, which are found at very low levels in the City's water supply.
"They often cause stomach illnesses and quite bad diarrhea, vomiting," Zucker says. "These illnesses, particularly if you are an immuno-compromised person, cancer patient, AIDS patient, it increases the risk of their health."
The water that flows through the Kensico Reservoir comes from upstate. It's fluoridated, and then all of it, 1 billion gallons per day, passes through the UV light disinfection facility.
"This new plant employs 56 UV units, each of which contains 210 lamps, more than 11,700 bulbs in total," Strickland says.
With the added UV disinfection, the DEP has also lessened the dosage of chlorine used to treat the water supply.
"It's a silent transformation," says Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway. "For our 9 million people who rely on this water supply, they will likely not notice it at all. You can't taste UV."
DEP officials say they run tests throughout the watershed upstate and in the city seven days a week, 260,000 times a year.