Iron in Drinking Water


Providing high-quality water service is our business and we have an exceptional track record when it comes to meeting primary state and federal drinking water standards. While our compliance record is 100 percent, we continue to work on addressing issues related to discolored water by reducing the amount of iron in the water that is distributed to our customers.

Overview of the issue

The sole source of drinking water for our customers on Long Island is groundwater. There is a significant amount of naturally-occurring iron present in the groundwater aquifer that supplies our wells. 

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not consider the levels of iron in your water to be a health concern and iron falls under EPA's secondary standards, which are guidelines to assist water systems in managing their drinking water for aesthetic considerations. 

Iron can cause discoloration, resulting in stained fixtures or stained laundry, and we understand that discolored water is a significant issue for our customers. If you are having issues with discolored water, please contact us. Call our Customer Service Center at 1-877-426-6999 or direct message us via Facebook.

What we are doing about it

  • Iron removal treatment facilities: New York American Water has invested more than $50 million in the construction and upgrade of ten iron removal filtration plants. Currently, there are 15 iron removal treatment facilities in our Long Island service areas.   
  • Flushing: In addition to removing iron in the water treatment process, we also flush our system each spring and fall to remove sediment that may have settled in the pipes when water demand is lower.
  • Water main replacements: We have invested $66 million to replace 55 miles of water mains in Service Area 1 from 2012 to 2018, and we continue to prioritize investments in areas experiencing discolored water.
  • Water treatment change: In partnership with the Nassau County Department of Health, New York American Water is pursuing a water treatment change that would reduce the amount of corrosion that is taking place within our older, unlined cast iron pipe water mains. Learn more about the corrosion study we conducted to inform this treatment change.

What you can do to reduce discolored water in your home

  • Lower your temperature setting on your hot water heater. High water temperatures can reduce the effectiveness of iron treatment, causing the iron to become more visible and settle to the bottom of the heater. The water temperature should be no higher than 120°F. Reducing the temperature can also reduce the stress on the hot water heater and prevent it from burning out prematurely.
  • Flush your water heater on a regular basis. It is important to flush the heater on a regular basis according to the manufacturer's recommendation. 
  • Check for discolored water before using the washing machine or dishwasher. Iron treatment loses its effectiveness within 48 to 72 hours. If there are long periods where the hot water is not used, the iron can settle to the bottom of your hot water tank. Before use, run the water for two to three minutes until clear. If it takes longer, it may be a sign that your hot water tank needs to be flushed.

For more information

  • Hot Water Heater Guide and Tips for Flushing Your Hot Water Heater: Provides helpful tips on what you can do at home to reduce discolored water in your home. NOTE: these materials reference a magnet and hot water heater gauge. If you’d like a complete copy of our hot water heater kit, please contact us at 1-516-596-4831.
  • Iron in Your Drinking Water: This bill insert, which was sent to all New York American Water customers, provides additional information.