It’s eau de dirt.
New York City’s famed tap water has taken on a strange odor and taste — described by some as wood or dirt — since the beginning of the month, and a repair project deep in the Catskills is to blame.
In preparation for the shutdown of one of two aqueducts from the Catskill-Delaware reservoir system, the city started drawing more water from the mineral-rich Croton watershed reservoirs in Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Croton water normally makes up just 10 percent of the city’s water supply, but that has been temporarily increased to 20 to 30 percent due to the work. The mix is being distributed in Manhattan and parts of The Bronx, but that could change, the agency said.
New Yorkers have noticed.
The 311 system logged 183 calls from Monday through 2 p.m. Thursday, with complaints about the odor or taste of the tap water. An “earthy taste” was a common refrain, the DEP said.
Because the Croton water contains more minerals, mostly calcium and magnesium, it is considered “moderately hard” and can leave spots on dishes, soap scum on bathroom fixtures and scaly deposits in pipes.
The DEP insists the funky water is “100 percent harmless.”
“New Yorkers can develop their preferences, but it is all tested hundreds of times each day and it is the safest, healthiest drink,” said DEP spokesman Edward Timbers.
The city has long crowed about its clean drinking water.
The water flowing from the Catskill-Delaware system is so pure it is only one of five places in the country that does not need to be filtered, although it is disinfected with chlorine and ultraviolet light. The Croton water goes through an underground filtration plant in The Bronx before reaching city taps.
The 113-year-old Catskill aqueduct, which starts at the Ashokan Reservoir in Ulster County and brings the water south, needs new valves and other repairs.
A $156 million project, which will get underway at the end of the month and last 10 weeks, will be done on the northernmost 74 miles of the 92-mile-long water tunnel.