The City University of New York campuses are all connected to the New York City water system, which is considered to be one of the highest quality municipal water systems in the United States. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulates and polices the watershed that surrounds and protects our reservoirs, and the water is tested more than half-a-million times a year at various points throughout the system. Additionally, the DEP adjusts the pH of the water to minimize corrosion and adds phosphoric acid to create a protective film on pipes to prevent the release of lead and other metals.
Although lead in drinking water is a concern for everyone, it can be especially harmful to small children. At CUNY, this concern is largely focused on the University’s childcare centers. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) requires that all childcare centers provide documentation that there is no lead in the drinking water (above the EPA limit of 15 parts-per-billion) when they obtain their original license and for each two-year renewal. All of our childcare centers are licensed and we are in the process of reviewing their water certifications to ensure system-wide consistency.
Additionally, CUNY is working with the DEP, the DOHMH, and the New York City Department of Education (DOE)—which is responsible for the public schools on our campuses—to explore other measures to minimize the potential of any contamination in our potable water system and maximize the safety of everyone on our campuses.