How Do Our Water Systems Work?
February 13, 2020

Harris Water Main and Sewer installs new water main on city connection

The average homeowner goes through their day utilizing water for showers, washing their hands, making coffee, and countless other tasks without taking the time to think about how the water arrives to their home.

The water for most NYC homes comes from a water plant in upstate New York, almost 125 miles away from the city. All water is treated along the way. New York City is the nation’s largest municipal water supplier with 90 percent of the water supply coming from upstate and the other 10 percent coming from Croton watershed. The city has a 3 billion investment to replace the antiquated infrastructure over the coming years

As the water travels from upstate, it is treated starting with the help of robotic buoys that send information about the quality of water which is then disinfected with chlorine. Stage 2 of the disinfecting process uses ultraviolet light with chlorine, which is then tested for purity. The water travels a long way through mountains and valleys before arriving in NYC.

Once the water arrives in the city it flows below ground through tunnels, ultimately being distributed through different chambers. There are billions of gallons of water being delivered each day, which travels over 6,500 miles each day with aid from gravity. Now this is where our water and sewer fees come into place, the system costs over $130 million dollars to operate daily.

Tap connection on city main in NYC

The water is ultimately delivered through smaller pipes in sections of each borough that each homeowner’s water main is tapped into. For example, you may have a 12” city main fronting your home and at some point, the city installed a tap connection that serves as the on/off switch from the city main to your private water main. To the surprise of most, the homeowner is responsible for the entire water main from the house to the roadway, where it connects to the city main. In the event that you require a water main repair in NYC due to a leak in the roadway, you, the homeowner, are responsible for the entire cost. This includes any work needed on the roadway. In other parts of New York, the homeowner’s responsibility stops at the property line, at which point the city or village would assume the responsibility for repairing the pipe.

Only a water main repair in NYC would the homeowner be responsible for the cost of permitting, excavating and the actual piping repair work in the roadway.