Where does my drinking water come from?
Frequently Asked Questions
Water suppliers prepare Annual Water Quality Reports as prescribed by Section 5-1.72 of the New York State Sanitary Code (10 NYCRR). The intent of Annual Water Quality Reports is to provide information to consumers relative to what is in their drinking water.
Here are water quality reports from local counties and municipalities:
If you want to test your tap water, your local health department will assist in explaining any contaminant specific tests that you need for various contaminants. If your local health department is not able to help, you can contact a state certified laboratory to perform the test. To find a state certified laboratory in your area call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791, visit the State Certified Drinking Water Laboratories list or contact the Erie County Department of Health at 716-961-6800.
If you are concerned about contaminants in your drinking water, consider installing a filter. There are many filters that remove different contaminants.
Consumer standards are actually more stringent for the quality and safety of public water sources, like tap water, than for bottled water. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SWDA) only regulates public water systems, it does not apply to bottled water. Bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
- More than half of all bottled water comes from the tap.
- Single-use plastic bottles are a large source of litter found in our region.
- Bottled water is extremely likely to contain microplastics.
- Emergency situations like Harmful Algal Blooms or extreme weather events may dramatically impact public drinking water sources and deem the water unsafe to drink. During these types of situations communities on public water systems are normally issued a public notice. You may be offered water from a neighboring system or have to rely on bottled water, depending on the severity of the emergency and water system disturbance.
Tap water is processed at a water treatment plant and then transported to homes and buildings for use through water lines. Pipes used to transport tap water are the main source of potential contamination, including lead. Homes built in the United States prior to 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes or fixtures with lead.
- In many municipalities the property owner is responsible for water lines (service lines) that connect the building to the main water line. To find out, contact your water system provider.
- Participate in the NYS Department of Health Free Lead Testing Pilot Program.
- Public school districts in NYS are required to test for lead.
Defining Drinking Water
Rivers arise from a network of streamlets and wetlands whose waters join together above and below ground as they flow downstream. The term headwaters refers to the smallest streams in the network.
This includes a wide variety of actions and activities aimed at safeguarding, maintaining, or improving the quality and/or quantity of sources of drinking water and their contributing areas. These activities may depend on the type of source being protected (e.g., groundwater, reservoir, or river).
The protection and preservation of headwater forests and riparian areas for ecological and natural habitat benefit.