Iron in Drinking Water

Providing high-quality water service is our business and we have an exceptional track record. Last year, New York American Water’s compliance record for meeting primary state and federal drinking water standards was 100 percent. That beats the national average. While our water quality track record is exceptional, we continue to work on lowering the amount of iron that is naturally present in the groundwater on Long Island.

Overview of the issue

The drinking water source for our customers on Long Island is entirely groundwater. Iron is a naturally present mineral in the groundwater aquifers that we utilize. While the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not consider the levels of iron in your water to be a health concern, it can cause discoloration, resulting in stained fixtures or stained laundry.

What we're doing about it

  • Iron removal treatment facilities: Over the years, New York American Water has built six iron removal treatment plants in Nassau County, and we’re in the process of building a seventh facility. The new $7.5 million 4 MGD (million gallons per day) iron removal treatment facility will be located in northwest Lynbrook. Weather permitting, we expect to have the plant online in the latter part of 2013. 
  • 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.
  • Pipeline replacements: We're also planning to replace more than 30,000 feet of pipeline this year.

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.