A new national database released Wednesday by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) shows which health-threatening pollutants have been found in the public drinking water supplied by several southern Westchester water providers.
You can search the database by zip code or by your local water utility name; for example, in zip code 10804 (New Rochelle area), tap water provided by United Water Westchester Rate District #2 and by Westchester County Water District #1, was “in compliance with federal health-based drinking water standards” during the latest quarter assessed by the EPA (January to March 2017).
But the news isn’t so good for Mamaroneck. Tap water provided by Westchester Joint Water Works during the same time period assessed by the EPA was “in violation of federal health-based drinking water standards.” You can find out which contaminants were found by scrolling down the listing page.
The water utility that serves Larchmont Village was found in compliance with the federal standards for the same time period; however, EWG notes that this utility– like the one supplying Mamaroneck, may receive some or all of its finished water from other public systems, such as New York City or the Westchester Joint Water Works, both of which were not found to be in compliance with the federal health-base drinking water standards.
For Larchmont Village the database goes on to describe in detail five contaminants (all cancer-related) detected in 2015 that were found to be above health guidelines.
More bad news: even if your water supplier doesn’t violate some government safety standards, there could still be health issues, according to EWG experts.
Says David Andrews, Ph.D.,senior scientist at EWG, “The legal limit doesn’t always necessarily mean it’s the safe limit, or the goal-level for that contaminant. We’re really highlighting the fact that these federal agencies– in this case, the EPA– has not taken recent steps to update any drinking water standards. They have not set a new drinking water regulation in over two decades.”
What about lead in drinking water? The database has a detailed section on lead contamination with guidance on how to test your drinking water.
EWG’s Tap Water Database is a new updated version including data from 2010 through 2015. Its first tap water database was launched in 2004. The EWG site also provides information on what kinds of filters you can use at home to filter specific contaminants and improve water quality.
Joyce H. Newman is an Emmy Award-winning environmental journalist, educator, and gardener. She holds a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden, and is a tour guide there.