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November 14, 2019 47 mins

Getting the rain and melted snow from upstate NY into the taps of every NYC resident and business is one of the great feats of engineering. Does it taste great and make perfect bagels and pizza crust? Sources say yes!

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Cuckoo Seattle. We're coming to see you. Yes, and your
little horn announcement is one of my favorite things that
you do because I know it means we're going to
do a live show. And in this case, we're going
to the great state of Washington, the greatest city in
the United States, Seattle, at the greatest theater in the world.

The more the more we're going back. It's like our
home away from home in Seattle. We're going to be
there Thursday, January six, and tickets are already on sale
and they're going like like uh Washington hot cakes fast. Yeah,
they're going like chew car cherries. And you know what,
if you want to save the few bucks, I think
you can even go to the box office there buy

them without those internet fees. Yes, Or if you don't
care and you just want to buy them on the internet,
you can go to s y s K live dot
com and follow the links there and it will take
you right to the beautiful ticket site. And also, f
y I, if you go to buy tickets in person,
you want to go to the box office of the
Paramount Theater downtown, not the more the Paramount. We'll see

you guys in January. Welcome to Stuff You Should Know,
a production of My Heart Radios How Stuff Works. Hey,
and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark. There's Charles
so Be, Chuck Bryant, There's guest producer Andrew. This is
Stuff you Should Know. Let's get this a I'm excited

about this one. This was your your pick and I
was like, what is Chuck talking about? Were you really yes?
And then Chuck I happened to stumble upon I don't
know what I was looking for, but an email from
somebody who sent like a Google doc or something that's
that was a list of episodes we said we should do,

and people have said those in before, but this one
was kind of condensed and that was on there. So
I've I've stumbled upon your dirty little secret. I don't
think that's where I got it. Oh really, I don't
think so. But maybe I just know that I am
always fascinated by not only New York City, but by
the fact that New York City functions with that many

people and all that everything. It's just all amazing to
me that that city functions with that many people, that
many buildings, that like I want to do an episode
on trash removal. Okay, I want to do one on
on wastewater treatment. Yeah, oh yeah, that's just New York
in general. That's been long brewing. Are you okay with that? Yeah?

Just just I mean we can mention New York or whatever.
Big thanks to Dave Rouse, though, one of our great writers.
They put this together and it's really really fascinating. Dave's
just an amazing human. All of our writers are amazing,
for sure. Dave is great as well. He's one of
a few select amazing people. Right. So, um, the reason

why New York, why anybody would ask about New York's
water is because if you've ever interacted with the New Yorker,
they talk about their water a lot. It's like kind
of a thing in New York where they're like, our
tap water is the best water in the country, and
they have like a lot of um stuff to back
that up with, and so much so that that that

they say this this water is actually the reason why
our bagels and our pizza are so good. Yeah, I was.
We were both just there for our final shows of
the year at the Bellhouse. Thanks for people who came out.
They were great, a lot of fun and by the
way the guy that fell asleep on the front row
on night number two, I think it was nine number two.

I was walking down the street and he randomly passed
by driving in a car and rolled down his window
and said, hey man. He said great show the other night, right,
And I was waiting for him to say, is that
Freedom Rock? And I said thanks dude. I was like
front row And he was so excited that I remember
front Row and he drove on before I had a

chance to say, you fell asleep. He's like, I feel
like I was there. Maybe I felt like a dream too,
I don't know, but um, we were just there. And uh,
there are many many restaurants in New York where there
will be like a water cooler or a place where
you can help yourself to your own cup of water,
and it will have a big sign on it that

says New York City tap water and proud all caps
underlined letters yeah, and and they mean like they're just
getting water out of the tap, Whereas in other cities
that's a dirty, shameful secret that people don't talk about.
In New York, they proudly boast about it. And um,
that just the fact that New York or any New

Yorker in the city gets water at all is pretty spectacular.
It's like you said, there's a lot of people, there's
a lot of buildings, and something like more than a
billion gallon ends of water flow into New York through
the taps every day, I said day with the d yes.
It is the largest water system in the United States.

People from all over the world government officials fly in
and take meetings with the New York City water people
just to see, like, how have you done it? They're
just a goog how could we do better? So so
that's impressive enough that a billion, more than a billion
gallons of water is delivered every day to New Yorkers

pretty great. But the idea that you can just drink
it straight from the tap and it is unfiltered, that
is a truly impressive feat. Yeah. And by unfiltered, we
mean of the water is unfiltered and ten is filtered. Right,
And you might say, look, how can you just filter

of the water. Well, it comes from different places. So
of the water comes from two places, two watersheds that
combined are called the Catskill Delaware Watershed or water system
I think um and then the other one from the
Crow Croton. I always want to say crow towing, but
from the Croton Reservoir, that ten percent is actually filtering.

We'll get into all of that, but of New York's
water is not It doesn't go through a filtering process,
and that makes New York one of only five major
cities in the United States to get a waiver from
the e p A that says your water is so
deliciously pure and delightful that you don't need to filter it.

Um Almost every other city has to have a filtering
process before it gets delivered to taps. That's right. And
the other four naturally Seattle, Portland, or against San Francisco.
The one that's a bit of a surprise is Boston, Massachusetts.
What that's that's that's how surprising it is, Chuck. That's right.

So let's talk a little bit about the history of
New York in their water, because back in the day,
we've always talked about how what a disgusting, disease ridden
poop and horse urine ridden place New York City was. Yeah,
like supposedly there was a good twelve inches of horse
maneuver on the street at all times before they before

they really started cleaning their place up. It's pretty bad.
I think that was in the Wynn Chries Typhoid Merry episode,
which is a great one. Another great New York episode.
So if we're talking New Amsterdam, pre New York City. Uh,
they got water where you would think from ponds and
natural springs, underwater springs, and they had a forty eight

acre pond it's about sixty ft deep, uh in Tribeca
what is now Tribeca called the Collect and also the
little Collect that was just south of there. Uh. And
that name comes from the Dutch word kulk, which means
small body of water. And the Collect was where they
got their water for a long time. And of the

city let Uh, some tanners built a tannery on the
shores of the not smart New York which ruined everything. Yeah,
because it started to get polluted. They also were able
to drill wells and stuff around places where people pooped
and pete and then dumped their poop and pee. Um.

It was a dirty, dirty place. Because this is pretty
germ theory, or at least around the time the germ
theory was being developed and people didn't understand it. Um.
And I think it was our great stink episode where
they traced to cholera epidemic to a public well, um
a public water pump. John Snow, if I remember correctly,
did that, and this would have been around the time

that New Yorkers were suffering from cholera epidemics, one of
which took place, and they think the eighteen thirties, eighteen
thirty two. It killed thirty New Yorkers and that was
a substantial amount of of the population at the time,
and another hundred thousand New Yorkers had to flee just
to get away from this caller epidemic. And it was

because their sewage and their water was coexisting in very
unhealthy ways. So New York said, maybe we should try
something else. Let's look a little further outside the city
where we're dumping our waists and everything, and see if
we can get our water from there. And they did.
They built the Croton Reservoir. They dammed the river and
reservoir collected and they said, now we have some beautiful

pure water. We will never need to do anything again
to get our water. That's right. Previous to that, though,
in the eighteenth century, they had these public pumps like
you were talking about on street corners about every four
blocks or so a big wooden pump where you would
get your water from uh underground underground streams and springs
and stuff. But there were only a few of these

that actually delivered good water. A lot of it was
really brackish and gross tasting. And Americans and early European
settlers obviously loved their tea, and so they marked this
was almost like an early yelp or whatever. They had
these pumps that actually delivered the like the two or
three good pumps in the city that delivered good water
labeled tea water pumps, but like it was good enough

to use for tea, good enough to use for making
good tea, and so they would go to these tea
water pumps. You would have to buy the water. Um.
The best one was apparently at Chathaman Roosevelt there was
another and sort of what the Lower East Side is
today that was a good tea water pump. And this
worked out for a long time until uh, the uh

the collect and all this stuff it started to sort
of um get nasty and stinky, and so they built
a canal to channel that water into the river. Like that,
we gotta get rid of it and drain this thing.
So they build this canal forty ft wide, they channel it.
Right after they finish it, this canal begins to sink
and in one it got so bad. The smell was

so bad that they eventually just covered up the canal.
And guess what that became. I don't know, Central Park,
Canal Street. Oh, how about that? So stupid? How wasn't
even in the right part of the city. We've even
done an episode on Central Park and that wouldn't forget it. Yes,

Canal Street obviously, that's where Canal Street came from. There
was literally a canal and then eventually an underground sewage
system under running under Canal Street. Uh. And there's another
cool little tidbit if you want, like your little New
York history, if you like to walk around on subways
and tell people about cool things. Um. One of the
first public reservoirs in the city was dug by Aaron
Burr and his Manhattan company, and that didn't work out.

They transported it through wooden logs as pipes bury beneath
the city. Somebody found a piece of that wooden log.
It's in one of the museums up there. Now, Oh,
no way, Yeah, that is very cool. But the water
didn't taste great and it didn't work out for Aaron Burr,
so he uh change. He still kept the Manhattan Company,
but he got into banking, and the Manhattan Company he

became Chase Manhattan Bank. I saw somewhere that that was
his aim all along, that the water thing was just
basically a fleece to raise money to found the lake,
and that that's why the water was so shoddy and
the delivery was so shoddy. But what they were selling
was so bad supposedly the horses wouldn't even drink it,
so it was a scam. It was basically a scam.

Aaron Burr was not the greatest historical American shot Alexander
Hamilton's I know that that's enough right there, right, And
then also scammed a bunch of people out of their
their um water investment, because I mean, if you want
to invest in a bank, you want to invest in
a bank. If you want to invest in a water outfit,
you want to invest in a water outfit. You want

people to be above the boards with stuff like that.
That's right, that's my tirade. So you mentioned the Croton
Dam and the Croton Reservoir. I want to say crotone
as well. Uh, that became and that aqueduct became operational
and things were okay, but then a tragedy struck with
the Great Fire of eighteen thirty five. Yes, which actually

I guess that the Great Fire took place right before
the reservoir was open, which is why the Great bad. Yeah.
So in eighteen thirty five, Uh, in on a night
in December, a warehouse caught fire and it just leveled
Lower Manhattan, like just destroyed something like, um, seventeen city blocks,

fifty acres of the most densely populated part of New
York at the time, and um, luckily only two people died.
Two is too too many, But considering that it was
seventeen city blocks that got reduced to ash, that's not
bad actually, especially considering that the way that they ended
up fighting this fire was by setting buildings on the

perimeter on fire because they didn't have the amount of
water that they needed. Yeah, that the reason for that.
It was just sort of really bad luck. There were
two smaller fires that drained our hour. Like I'm a
New Yorker, listen to me, You're an honorary New Yorker.
I would guess it drained the cisterns, the reserve cisterns
that they had, and because of those two smaller fires,

they didn't have enough to fight the Great Fire. And
the long and short of all of this is New
York said, we got to really speed up this Croton
Reservoir work. Yep, and they did. And so the Croton
Reservoir was brought online in the middle of the nineteenth
century and they had a big old parade and everything, um,
and it delivered something like ninety million gallons of delicious

pure water to New York. Um in the in the
middle of the nineteenth century was a really big deal
and it worked really well for a very long time.
But um, there was also they built the murray Hill
Reservoir so the the the Croton Reservoir would be where
the water collected up state. And then they build an
aqueduct system which is still around in parts today and

elevated aqueduct to what's called the murray Hill Reservoir, which
is a four acre above ground swimming pool. Basically, it's
pretty cool if you look at pictures. Yeah, yeah, it's
it was like a real um spot in the city.
While it was around, I think something. Untill eighty two,
it was around and people used to take strolls around

it and make paintings of it and that kind of thing.
And it is where the New York Public Library is
now today, where the Ghostbusters did some of their early work.
All right, right, but the the it worked really well
for for you know, the time. But then as New
York grew and grew and grew, it became very painfully
obvious yet again that New York had outgrown its water supply. Yeah,

they needed more water. Ninety million gallons a day wasn't enough. Uh.
And then what made matters worse was New York City
officially made it a declaration that we are now not
just Lower Manhattan. Of course, they didn't call Lower Manhattan
at the time. That was just sort of where the
city ended. They called it Manahatta Manhatta. I saw that episode,

by the way, it was one of the better ones ever,
which one of think of what we do in the dark,
that's right where they go to party in Manhattan. Man
I had a um, what we do in the shadows?
Yeah yeah, yeah, um, so stupid, that's all right. The
five boroughs were included in officially, so New York um

and the water needed to get to the people was
officially uh grown to more than three million people by
the time the century turned right, which is just precious today.
Three million New Yorkers, Oh my gosh, they do. So
they started to look up state again because they had
hit upon like a pretty good idea. The city is
is a cess pool. Um, we need our water from

outside of the cess pool. And they started looking up state.
So this time they looked up to the cat Skills
and they found two watersheds, which we did an episode
on watersheds that I would love to forget, but it
came up just now. I thought it was good. Oh man,
it was horrendous. What was it? Yes, I thought it
was terrible and boring January. I don't remember when it

came out. Like I said, I tried to forget that
it ever happened. I thought it was pretty good. But anyway, So,
a watershed is basically a specific topographical air area where rain, snow,
whatever precipitation falls down into this area and is delivered
to a specific creek, river stream, something like that that

eventually and empties into like a lake or a reservoir
or something like that. So there's two watersheds, the Delaware
and the Catskill Watershed that put together create something like
um two thousand square miles of water catching goodness, and
it delivers it to a number of different reservoirs. And
that is now today where New York gets like its water. Yeah.

So you know, obviously they had too damn up rivers
to create these reservoirs. And this all happened to, you know,
in the early nineteen hundreds. And then finally they were like, great,
We've got all these reservoirs and the skills. But let
me remind you, we're on the lower eas side of Manhattan,
surrounded by horse, hearon and and poop. We need our

fresh water. How do we get it here? So in
the engineers of New York City completed the ninety two
mile cat Skill Aqueduct, which is amazing. It's basically a
big concrete tunnel that sends water two miles from the
cats Skills down to New York. It's as wide as

thirty feet in some places. It is not a tunnel
the entire length as we will see here in a minute.
Not a continuous tunnel. I'm not sure what that means.
What is it just like open. So there's parts of
it that aren't technically a tunnel in that it's a
covered trench. They cut a trench and then they covered
it back up, which I don't know how you do that,

but it's not technically a tunnel like a circle or tube. Interesting,
And here is to me one of the facts of
the show. You get this water down there in the
aqueduct and you get to the Hudson River, and what
are you gonna do? You gotta go under it. To me,
it just be like just pump it in the Hudson
and hope it comes out the other side. But then

I would have gotten fired immediately when I he's no engineer,
he's a shamp he's a rapscallion. So it gets to
the Hudson River and then it goes way down into
the ground, about eleven feet below sea level and then
climbs back up the other side. And it does all
this via gravity. Yes, and they did that not just

to show off, but because they decided. I read this awesome,
you know how I'm always like read the contemporary articles.
I read one from seven where they were talking about
the construction of the aqueduct and they said that the
reason why they were going down that far is because
they wanted to hit bedrock because it would be fisher free,
meaning there would be no leakage and they could just

pumped the water through the hole that they board in
the bedrock. Well. They thought the bedrock was going to
be about five feet down, and by seven when they
wrote the Scientific American article, they'd reached like seven feet
still hadn't hit it. It ended up being like eleven
hundred feet below sea level where they finally hit bedrock.
And that's why they had to drill so far down.
And they drilled a tunnel, a vertical shaft from the

from the Hudson down to that tunnel, and they built
like a tube to pressurize it. So the water even
feet under the Hudson is that like fifteen tons per
square foot of pressure, which also helps. But the fact
that there's no pumps or anything, it's all gravity and
pressure driven. Yes, And sadly though, that story has a

sad ending because it took so long that their fisher
free and oh three T shirts were all rendered useless.
What No, I don't know. That's a great joke. I'm
gonna go back and listen to it and I'll probably
think it's hilarious, So compliments on it in advance. Oh man,

that was a quality joke. Three got you? Okay, sure, sure, yeah, yeah, yeah,
I got you? All right, I got you. We're all
together now, Okay, that was a pretty good joke. Uh geez.
Should we take a break after that? Yeah, all right,
let's take a break. We'll talk a little bit more
about this so called aqueduct right after this stuff you

should know, gosh and shuck stuff you should know. Okay, chuck.

So we've got the Catskill Aqueduct delivering water. Um. There's
another one too, called the um the Delaware Aqueduct. And
this one actually is like a genuine tunnel. Yes, it's
eighty five miles, completed in forty four. I'm not gonna
make a T shirt joke about that, and it is
still the longest continuous tunnel in the world at eighty

five miles. And they did this all, you know, just
this digging process is amazing in and of itself, digging
these tunnels and these trenches with steam shovels and pouring
the concrete tunnel, which I was like, how do you
do that? Even you do the bottom half, let it set,
and then you do the top half and let that's set.

So they were like Charles Bronson in The Great Escape,
they were digging tunnels. Yeah, I mean we're talking like
dynamite and stuff like that. Like the really did it
the old school way to build these aqueducts, and they're
still in use today, so much so that there's there's
three tunnels. Tunnel number one and tunnel number two have
been in operation since nineteen seventeen and nineteen thirty six.

They've never stopped operating. They've never been stopped up and
drained and inspected in over a hundred years. For tunnel
number one, Yeah, I think the current memo going around
is I'm sure it's fine. Well, so they're building tunnel
number three, and they decided to start building tunnel number
three nineteen fifty four. They actually started in nineteen seventy.

They are still not done with Tunnel number three. Parts
of it are online, and when it does fully come online,
tunnel number three will have a capacity enough so that
they can individually stop and drain and inspect and repair
Tunnel number one and then eventually tunnel number two. Tunnel
number three. Yeah, tonnel tunnel number three will will save

the other two. And it's good that they're doing it now.
But I saw that it's gonna be fully operation all
in one. They think, so we're almost there. Almost man. Yeah,
it's the New York's longest running municipal project. Uh five
billion dollar price tags so far and counting, I guess.
And then those three tunnels are two, and however many

parts of three are working deliver one point three gallons
of water a day through a network of mainz and
then individual pipes leading to apartments and homes and businesses
and skyscrapers, and all of those pipes, if you total

them up, would lay out about seven thousand miles. That's
pretty impressive. I would also like to point out that
I think you met one point three billion gallons? Would
I say? One point three gallons? Really? Which should be
hilarious that they went to all this trouble, spend all
this money and they're like, we can crank out one

three gallons a day, New York. Gather around and get
your water. I was still thinking about my T shirt joke.
It's a good joke. And here's the kicker to another
great fact of the show. Only five of all of
the city's water relies on pumps to get to its
final destination, which it means your tap. It's pretty awesome. Yeah,

so that means that it can't break down or if
something does happen, they still have things like gravity to
help things along. It's great. So um. The reason why
the e p A gave New York a um a
waiver and said you don't have to filter the water
coming from the cat skill in the Delaware water sheds
is because because Juliani Greece, the palms of the e

p A. Exactly it started well, it started out is
so pure and pristine and just great um water to
begin with, but they have taken steps along the way
to ensure that it stayed that way. Because one of
the things that happened with the Croton Reservoir is development
was allowed to grow up around it. Um, agriculture was

allowed to pollute it. Um. It just got it turned.
And after that the e p A, I think in
the nineties the late nineties, said yep, you guys have
to start filtering that water. It's no longer unfilterable. Um.
It's it's it's not drinkable as is. So they had
to start filtering. It used to be a hundred percent
of New York's water was unfiltered that Croton Reservoir now

is ten percent that is filtered. But but so they
learned a valuable lesson from that, and now they're very
proactive in keeping the Delaware and cat Skill Reservoir or
um watershed water from becoming corrupted by things like development
and agriculture. Yeah. And but you know, the lesson they
learned is money. Because you might be thinking, like, what's

a big deal, why don't they just filter all of it.
It's a lot cheaper to take care of the land
and make sure you never have to filter it than
to install a filtering plant. Yeah, because they estimate that
a filtering plant would cost something like ten billion dollars
up front and then a hundred million dollars a year
to operate. New York is spending something like one billion
dollars every several years to protect them, the Delaware and

the Catskill watersheds. So it is an enormous investment. But
also it's great because it's natural water that's unfiltered. Yeah.
And you know, they do this in a number of ways,
aside from buying up the land, which was a good
move and making sure nothing happens to it. Yep. So,
so New York City owns a lot of land up state.

Just y Yeah, it's a lot of land. Um, not
forty percent of New York State, but the property around
the Catskill and Delaware water sheds. They also did things like, hey,
let's look at all the wastewater treatment facilities upstream, and
let's invest a lot of money in upgrading those. Um. Hey,
all you people that have septic tanks that are falling apart,

that matters. So we're gonna reimburse you homeowners. Yeah that's impressive. Yeah,
install a new septic tank and we're gonna pay for it. Um.
They remove dead trees, they replace those with little sapling
trees who apparently have roots that are young and can
absorb a lot of harmful nutrients from that rain water.

And here's another good fact of the show. Some of
the water from those reservoirs or from that that watershed
can take up to a full year to make its
way down to the tap that you're drinking out of.
That's a good one. I like that one. It's almost
like the how long it takes sunlight to reach us,
and we're going to say that it's the same thing.
It's the same thing. They also, did you talk about

um farmers? The only difference between those stats is you
don't have to explain what a photon is. You can
just say water, it's a tiny packet of light. It's
the the carrier of electromagnetic right. What did you ask
right before that? Did you talk about the farmers how
they train farmers up state too? I did not, So
they say, hey, you hicks, you're gonna learn these techniques.

Man too. I'm just kidding. I love farmers. I would actually,
as a matter of fact, chuck when I um, when
I retire, I really really want like a small working farm,
very small, Like what do you want like a tenth
of an acre small? What kind of stuff do you
want to farm? What do you want on it? Oh?
I don't care? And yeah, oh yeah, some animals. But

it's just you know, having pigs around not to eat
or milk, but to um like basically, but to like
um to churn up like a field so that I
can plan it the next year and move the pigs
to the next part of the land. That kind of
stuff for chickens to just walk around and eat their
eggs and things like that. Some chickens, some pigs, you

want some probably a couple of goats. A couple of goats.
You want some planting? You want to farm some plants
and vegetables, sure, yeah, but mainly just to have something
to do, like with the earth. So I was a
hundred million percent teasing when I when I said that
New York was calling the farmers hex work. Probably did
call the farmer's hicks. But I wasn't condoning that. I

was just making a joke. Right, you're the guy who
wants a tenth of an acre one day to do
something on the ear, those pigs are gonna be like,
this is some pretty tight quarters around here. Oh you
know what else I would do? And I would need
more of a tenth more than a tenth of an
acre for this. Raise bees. That is where I will
eventually raise bees. It's on Josh's farm. Well, brother, you
better get some land soon, because it's it's it's leaving.

Land is leaving. Yeah, I mean it's people are buying land.
It's there's I remember my parents looking at land when
I was like ten years old, and they didn't buy it.
They said it's leaving, and it's a different deal. Now.
It's a lot harder to find the land that you want.
You know, people bought it all up. I know you
can still get it, but you gotta pay through the
nose for it. Yeah, or it's up to them if

they want to sell it or not. You know, we're
getting second right, we're getting sloppy seconds. O god, oh man,
that's gonna be one of those things that, like our
younger listeners is going to be in college, smoky pot
in a dorm room, and it'll just hit them what
you just said, like fifteen years on. Oh goodness. So
you mentioned the Croton watershed needs the filtering um and

they're trying to avoid that at all costs with the
other water sheds. But the Croton water supply when they
built this filtering system, it calls three point two billion
dollars and it's under a golf course in New Jersey,
which is so appropriate. That's where the tainted water is
under a golf course in Jersey and Bedminster perhaps sure,

I don't know what that is, but it sounds right.
I know some people would get that one mm hm.
New York's like, hey, you Hicks build a golf course
over this. New York just calls everybody else Hicks. And
it's right they do. When we can fly in say
welcome Hicks. So, um, have we taken our second break yet? No,

we probably should though there is a good time. Okay,
we're gonna take another break and we're gonna come back
and explain what New York does due to its water
and whether or not it is a secret ingredient in
bagels and pizza stuff. You should know, gosh, and shuck stuff.

You should know, alright, Chuck. So one thing that that
you're gonna want to say. If you're a New Yorker
and you're boasting about your tap water, there are some
things you should know. Number one, it's chlorinated. Number two,

it's been run through a UV filter. Even if it
hasn't been filtered, filtered, there's still things that are done
to it. It's not like it's coming straight out of
the cat skills into your tap. Yeah, they take it
very seriously. Obviously. Here's a good stat In one year,
there are more than fifteen thousand water samples taken and
analyze at the source. So this is upstream. Um, they

have uh Ai well, not AI or is it ai?
There's ai involved somehow, there always is. I always ask
if it's a I want to always ask you because
you know, sure, I know. Thanks to the End of
the World with Josh Clark. Oh, thanks for the plug.
Still available on iTunes, the I Heart Podcast app or
wherever you find your podcasts. Wow, that wasn't just a plug,

that was an ad. So they have these robotic buoys
that monitored the Kinsico Reservoir, one of the reservoirs that
feeds down into New York. And uh, these things take
one point nine million measurements a year and wirelessly transmit
that back to the Department of Environment Protection in New York. Yeah,

which is pretty awesome. And they had a booie before,
but they had to remove it in winter because ice
would mess with it. And this new one, um apparently
is ice yea. They also if you walk down the street, um,
there's something like hundred no, nine hundred and sixty five

little gray boxes that if you could open up you
would find a little sink in a faucet. It's adorable.
Maybe a little sample size of locks, often soap, and
that's a water sampling station. It says ny d e P.
Department of Environmental Protection, and scientists walk up to these things,
unlock them and take samples and test for all sorts

of different things to make sure that the water getting
to New York Is is good. Yeah, it says more
than that. Um, it says New York City Drinking Water
Sampling Station on the front of it. Oh wow, they
really really spell out Yeah, I said fisher free and
oh three stamped down there. Uh, so that you know

they're testing. They take water samples a month. I'm not
sure if you said that, but they were from these
particular stations, and they do all kinds of tests. Are
testing obviously for uh, turbidity which is cloudiness, pH chlorine, bacteria,
does it stink like all kinds of tests that they're
doing right, Um, And usually the New York City water

is going to pass all these tests like it's there's
not going to be a problem. This is just a
extra little quality assurance that they're doing because by the
time it reaches these testing stations, that's where it's going
to the taps anyway, it's tapping into the tap water.
Basic so um that ten percent of water goes through
a couple of extra steps that is um that that

the other ninety percent doesn't go through. One of the
first things it does in the treatment plan is it's
mixed with alum, which is a component of aluminum, right,
And alum attracts organic compounds and basically says, rise to
the surface with me and creates flock, which is a white,
frothy sludge, and all that is just skimmed off the top.

That's step one. Yeah, this sounds so gross and it is,
but like in the end, you get your good water.
The next thing that happens is it flows through these
giant water filters um. Dave put it as like these
giant britt of filters. It's essentially sort of the same thing.
And this is just gonna further purify the water, passing

through layers and layers of stuff like sand, uh an, anthracite.
And then comes the ultra violet light that you referenced earlier, right, Yes,
and a hundred percent of New York's water is sent
through a UV filter because UV filters are really good
at disrupting reproduction of bacteria um, and so all water

is apped. But that n of water that's not filtered
that goes through a separate UV filtering plant that's built
for those and that that's where like a billion gallons
of water a day are z apped with UV lights.
But um so all of that gets combined together eventually
and and comes out your tap and New Yorkers drink

it straight fro the tap. Literally. It is very bizarre
because I don't know if it's a placebo effect or what,
but I feel like it does taste pretty good for
tap water. But at the same time, I typically don't
drink just straight tap water, so my frame of reference
isn't necessarily right there. Do you want to hear something funny?
You know what my brother's favorite water is and what

it's probably just a bit, but he claims it's true
hose water. Oh, I know what he's talking about. Yeah,
like when you're watering the car or watering the car.
When you're washing the car, here a right grow car
when you're watering your mini, so it grows into an
suv right So, um, I think the reason why Scott
is onto something is because when you're drinking from a hose,

it's summertime and it's hot, yeah, and you're probably working hard.
Maybe it's definitely it definitely does taste different, for sure.
So when it comes to New York water, um, everyone
says it's the best in the country. There are rankings actually,
and it is out of one metro areas in the US,

So it's not the best literally by definition, not the
best water in the guy. You've got to move to Arlington,
Texas if you want uh. And this was this was
from ten years ago, but I'm not sure what the
current status is. Imagine Arlington's still up there though, sure,
but you're gonna have to have a lot more reasons
than that to move to Arlington, Texas. Ouch that one,

I'm not taking that. What are some of the problems
though with New York water, Well, there's two big problems. Turbidity,
which you mentioned earlier, which is um uh, sediment suspension
in the water, which gives it kind of a cloudy
or darker, gritty kind of look, which is it's not
just that it looks bad, it's pathogens can cling to

that sediment, so it's not something you want suspended. Plus
it also makes it much more difficult to filter that
stuff out. It's like extra work that has to be
done to get rid of that sediment. And if you're
not filtering your water to begin with, that's kind of
a problem. Um. And then secondly, the other one is
nutrients over it's over nutrient meaning it's just packed with

ribal flavoring. Well, what it actually is is fertilizer runoff.
You know, with those farmers are doing their best, but
there is fertilizer that goes downstream and runs into the watersheds.
And phosphorus is one of the biggest problems because farmers
do fertilize with phosphorus and if it runs off. The

phosphorus alone is not great because it can cause algae
blooms and stuff like that, and it can taste bad
and stink. Yeah, because when the algae dies, it decays
and it does not smell good. Now it does not
smell good. But um. A bigger problem though, is when
you combine that with the chlorine. Because, like we said,
New York water is chlorinated and fluoridated. We have the

T shirts to prove it, right. I don't think we
said it was fluoridated, but yeah, everybody knows it's fluoridated.
And when you combine that chlorine with a phosphorus, it
can create byproducts called disinfection by products and that is
no good at all. No, those are nasty. They're called
DBPs and they are basically like um chemicals that are

accidentally made from from sanitizing water, and not just with chlorine,
but chlorine chloramine. There's a bunch of different stuff that
they use to to disinfect water, and all of them
can can combine with organic call compounds to create really
just nasty stuff like um, carcinages or yeah, carcinogens. Um.

Some can produce miscarriages, just really really bad stuff that
can be produced in the drinking water. Chloroform is one
of those byproducts, yeah, which is why New Yorker is
frequently faint when they're drinking tap one. But this all
sounds super scary New York City. Um, they are they.

I think there are eight known contaminants um. But they
are still apparently well under the legal limit, depending on
what you think about how the legal limits are set
up for us, right exactly, it's a good caveat But
New York City drinking water is thirty point nine parts
pervilion chloroform and the national averages eleven, so they are
way higher on chloroform. But as far as all of

those uh DBPs, total, they're far below the legal limit
and just a little bit above average nationally. Right, and
then the total number of DBPs that they have is
actually less than those in Arlington's So interesting. Chew on
that Arlington's right, chew on that bad pizza. Speaking of
chewing chuck and pizza, let's just answer this question. Is

New York City's water the key ingredient to New York
City bagels and pizza? H? I think, I mean, you
can't definitively say, but I think it does have something
to do with it. For sure. It's got to because
science is involved. So here's the thing. The water from
the cat Skills and from the Delaware is naturally soft,
meaning that it's lower in calcium and magnesium. Where do

you fall on loving softer hard water? I'm a hard
water guy, same here man. When I lived in Arizona,
they had soft water where I lived in, uh my
sister's house that I lived in, and most of the
house has had water softened error, I guess hardening units
or whatever in the house. Yeah, because you can't feel clean,

like you never feel like you've got the shampoo or
the soap off. It's it's just awful. Does anyone like
soft water? I don't know, weirdos probably I mean hard water. Sorry, no,
I had it all backwards. Okay, So so you like
soft water, Yeah, that's why. That's why I actually that
so why I misspoke. They had water softeners in Arizona

because the water was hard. New York water is soft.
I like soft Okay. I like hard water typically because
I feel like I'm clean afterward. But soft water, like
just the New York water is fine with me. But
a softened like a chemically softened water, I can't stand. Yes, interesting,
But New York's is naturally soft, so it doesn't have calcium, magnesium,

or it is very low in those things comparatively, and
that actually has an effect on taste, like calcium and
magnesium can provide like a bitter taste to water. So
there's one thing that they're saying, like, Okay, the dough
isn't going to taste naturally bitter because of the calcium magnesium.
That's something that is something, and it also interacts with
the flower. If you're gonna make a bagel or a

bali or pizza crust, you're gonna be or you know
a lot of things when you're baking. But those are
the big three in New York. You're gonna be using
flour and water as your base for your dough and
hard water. The minerals uh in those tap water are
going to fortify the gluten and they're gonna make it
tough and less flexible. You don't want it too soft, though,

because it'll have the opposite effect and it will be
gooey and you won't be able to work it as well.
And apparently the American Chemical Society says New York City
tap water is the Goldilocks of bagel water. It is
just right yep, not too hard, not too soft, just
perfect for a bagel and for a pizza. And that
that American Chemical Society quote came from a Smithsonian article

and they went on to say probably though, it's actually
the techniques that New Yorkers used to make bagels, Like
they poach the bagel dough first, like they boil it.
That that's the only way to do a bagel. Sure,
it's not a bagel, No it's not. That's like a
baked donut and it's not a doughnut basically, And then
they also, um will uh, they'll let the yeast sit

for a little while to make it for men, which
creates volatile flavor compounds. So um, it just taste better.
They're saying, probably those are the reasons why New Yorkers
make better bagels or pizza. And it's not really the water.
The waters just contributes a very small amount. I think
it's all those things. Why not? No one can say

for certain, so let's just say yes, it is all
those things. Well, if you want to know more about
New York City's tap water, go on to New York
City and try their tap water. And since I said
that it's time for listener mail everybody, I'm gonna call
this uh house rolling And we talked about t being houses. Yep,

I let the podcast guys just finish up trick or treating.
And you were talking about rolling houses. I grew up
in Franklin, Tennessee, where we used to roll houses all
the time. In Franklin, Tennessee for people who don't know,
because where a lot of big shot Nashville big wigs live.
Because you can buy a huge house with lots of land.
That was Chuck speaking right. Funny thing though, guys, I'm

back to being brand and Okay, funny thing though, Guys,
my neighbor was Brad Paisley. There was a couple of
years before his first Grammy award, and once we found
this out, we knew that we had to get him.
So my sister and I gathered all of our friends
dressed in black and snuck out to roll this country
music stars house. We were halfway through the job when
his freaking tour bus rolled up on us. At first,

we all ran away frightened, but we were pretty much
called in the act. Nowhere to go. He got off
the bus and was super nice about the whole thing. Actually,
he gave us a quick tour of the tour bus,
chatted us up for a little while. We even cleaned
up the little bit of mess we had made and
left star struck. Highly doubt he remembers that night at all,
but my friends and I will certainly never forget anyway,
That's all I got, guys, have a spooky Halloween. That

is from Brandon Saunders. That is very nice. Brandon, thanks
a lot for that email, and hats off to Brad
Paisley for being so cool that he doesn't take his
hat off. But all right, exactly, but also, how about
just a hat tipp fin. Yeah, actually I was thinking
Kdney Chesney because he's ball none. None of those guys
take their hats off, dude. So but also he hangs
out with Peyton Manning, which means that he must be

a good guy. Right, isn't Peyton a good dude? Sure?
I'm just started of seeing him on my TV. Oh,
that's not gonna happen anytime soon. Pretty soon you'll see
him in augmented reality and you're gonna everywhere you go,
like it or not, Charles. Okay, Well, if you want
to get in touch of this, like Brad Paisley did,
you can go on to stuff you Should Know dot

com and check out our social links, and you can
also send us a good old fashioned email, wrap it up,
spank it on the bottom, with it some good old
country goodness, and send it off to stuff podcast at
iHeart radio dot com. Stuff you Should Know is a
production of iHeart Radios. How stuff works for more podcasts

for my Heart Radio because at the iHeart Radio app,
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