We New Yorkers take it completely for granted. It’s the pure, sweet, good-tasting water we drink, cook with, shower, bathe and wash our hair in. It is, according to every resource we found, the best drinking water in the country.

The “champagne of drinking water”, as recently called in The New York Times, comes from a protected and pristine source, the Catskill/Delaware Watershed and, less so, the Croton Watershed.
Amazingly, it travels to NYC via a 100-year-old Catskill Aqueduct that runs more than 1,000 feet below the Hudson River. Along the way, it is monitored, treated to prevent lead pipe corrosion and with chlorine, subject to ultraviolet radiation to limit the harmful by-products of chlorine, and tested on a daily basis.

Living may be hard in New York City, but the water is soft. With low amounts of calcium and magnesium, it is less likely to dry out your skin and can feel almost silken when you bathe in it. Then again, our soft water doesn’t lather like in those TV commercials of gorgeous women washing their hair in tropical waterfalls.

Hard water, on the other hand, will lather profusely but then dry out your hair and skin. That would account for why when you’re on vacation in a hard water area like, let’s say, California, it’s not the sun, sand or surf that’s making your hair dull and styling difficult.

In another blog piece, “New York City: The Unlikely Green Utopia”, we summarized the many green qualities of the city that contribute to a very high environmental profile. One of those qualities was its drinking water, “world-renowned for its quality, each day more than 1 billion gallons is delivered…to the taps of 9 million customers.”

Compare that to Las Vegas where residents get hernias manhandling cases of bottled water because their tap water, rated among the nation’s worst, includes two types of radium, arsenic and lead (but doesn’t exceed legal limits for contaminants).

The quality of a city’s drinking water, except in extreme cases like Flint, Michigan, would not be a factor in any company’s decision to locate in a city or buy a building there. Yet New York City’s water quality is part of our mythology. You know how that goes. King of the hill. Top of the heap. A Number One.

No article about NYC drinking water can be written without discussing…bagels. Do we have the best? Yes. Ask why and most people and The New York Times will say it’s our water. But, foodies, and even the Culinary Institute of America, beg to differ. They say it’s not the water but New York City bagel bakers’ practice of fermenting the dough overnight and then boiling it before baking that makes our bagels soft, light and chewy with a delightfully thin crust. Got cream cheese?

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Steven_J._SchleiderBy Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD + C President, Metropolitan Valuation Services