Use your ZIP code to dive into data about your drinking water
Canandaigua’s drinking water is the best tasting in the state, the New York American Water Association determined this year for the second time in four years. But what exactly is in that treated Canandaigua Lake water quenching 35,000 people? A new online water portfolio has the answer.
Not just Canandaigua drinking water, but all public drinking water statewide is broken down into what it’s made of at "What’s In My Water?" Think contaminants like nitrates, coliform, bromomethane, strontium, cobalt and trichloropropane — they're in the data you can pull up for your drinking water supply by putting in your ZIP code.
Megan Ahearn is program director for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) that unveiled the project Tuesday. The tool gives New Yorkers “an interactive, easy to navigate resource about the state of their drinking water,” Ahearn stated in a release. The site includes information on the presence of contaminants found through state and federal laboratory testing, and the location and nature of some potential threats to local drinking water, all searchable by ZIP code and maps.
“Access to clean drinking water should not be a privilege,” according to Ahearn. “Access to clear information about water shouldn’t be either. With What’s In My Water?, New Yorkers can decide whether their local water snapshots sink or swim.”
About that Canandaigua water: A check of zip code 14424 shows numerous addresses, so take your pick. You get data for all the drinking water in this area, which includes: 835 people served by the Bristol Harbour Water Corp.; 11,264 by the city of Canandaigua; 3,420 by the Gorham town water district; and 302 by Bloomfield Village water district 2 to name a few.
The project contains two major sets of data. You can search by ZIP code for information on your public drinking water supply for recent testing data contained in government records. This data contains information on the presence of detected regulated contaminants and unregulated contaminants. You can also search a map to view potential threats to your drinking water.
For example, checking on drinking water in the city of Canandaigua, you see coliform as a regulated contaminant was in violation from June 1, 2007 to June 20, 2007. You also see a long list of unregulated contaminants with a collection date, minimum reporting level, detected amount in parts per billion or a “not detected” for each.
Anestoria Shalkowski, NYPIRG Clean Water Project coordinator, said the research project was done to provide a “one-stop-shop” for information about your local public drinking water.
“It became very important for New Yorkers to be able to see what are the public health threats to our drinking water and groundwater resources within the state, particularly after Flint, Michigan and Hoosick Falls,” Shalkowski stated.
New York state has 2,324 active community-based public water systems that collectively provide the tap water to about 80 percent of the state’s population, or 16 million people. Another 4 million New Yorkers use private household wells.
The information is from the state’s Department of Health (DOH), Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Primary Water Supplier reports, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other public records. NYPIRG compiled the profile data from the multiple government-records sources between June 2016 and February 2017. Such information is often posted publicly, but difficult to access or buried in dense reports.