New York State Celebrates Drinking Water Week May 5 – 11

State Health Department Recognizes the Public Health Professionals who Protect Public Drinking Water

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 9, 2024) – The New York State Department of Health celebrates Drinking Water Week, May 5 – 11, 2024, and the public health professionals dedicated to protecting the public drinking water for millions of New Yorkers.

"The vast majority of drinking water in New York comes from a public water supply yet most people don't realize that when they turn on their tap, there's an entire workforce behind these systems making sure the end-product is safe and clean," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "This Drinking Water Week, we thank the professionals, including our own Department of Health water supply engineers, who help move billions of gallons of high-quality water into our homes for drinking, cooking, and household use."

Nearly 95 percent of New Yorkers receive their drinking water from public water systems. Approximately 17.8 million people are served by community public water systems.

The Department protects drinking water quality through a variety of programs that support source water protection, treatment, and monitoring.

All public water systems in New York are required to meet stringent federal and state drinking water standards, including monitoring of more than 100 contaminants such as lead, coliform bacteria, volatile organic compounds, and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Each system must report instances when drinking water exceeds standards called Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) and take action to address those water quality issues.

The Department works with local health departments, local officials, and local public water supply operators to ensure that public water systems are regularly monitored, and water treatment operators are properly trained and certified. These public health professionals work to protect drinking water in most neighborhoods across the state. 

Drinking water supply engineers and staff at the New York State Department of Health oversee New York State's public water supply program from source to your tap. State staff work closely with local health departments across New York to regulate the operation, design, and quality of public water supplies and commercial bottled water suppliers.  

Their work includes reviewing water supply engineering plans, water quality testing, and enforcement of regulations established to protect New York's drinking water from contamination. 

As New York State continues to introduce new funding and legislation to safeguard public drinking water, drinking water supply engineers and staff at the New York State Department of Health staff also review plans and projects to ensure that hundreds of millions of dollars of state and federal assistance are distributed equitably to upgrade drinking water systems and ensure high-quality drinking water in communities across the state.  

Public drinking water remains the safest option, even safer than bottled or private well water, because New York State certified operators are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, monitoring the water to ensure the water treatment plant is operating correctly to remove contaminants under the regulatory oversight of New York State and County Health Departments.  

These drinking water operators are the local public health experts, overseeing treatment and testing of drinking water at each public water system. Every water operator ensures that the water that reaches customers taps meets strict water quality standards.

The Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation (DEC) help ensure that the source waters (aquifers, rivers, and lakes) used for drinking water are protected from contamination. Source water protection is the first step to ensuring clean drinking water. The Drinking Water Source Protection Program assists communities in implementing protection programs that protect lakes, rivers and underground aquifers for generations to come.

"Through Governor Hochul's leadership, New York State continues to advance aggressive efforts to improve water quality and access to clean water by working with local, state, and federal partners to protect, manage, and conserve the State's drinking water supplies," DEC Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar said. "DEC is proud to work closely with DOH and local water experts across the state to ensure the safety and security of our water supplies and looks forward to bolstering these efforts with the Governor's historic investments in water quality."

Private well owners can get advice for testing their water and maintaining their well here.

For additional information about the regulation, monitoring and delivery of drinking water in New York State, consumers can obtain a copy of their water utility's Annual Water Quality Report or contact their water supplier to view the latest results. 

For more details on the Department's Drinking Water Protection Program, visit here.