We hope you enjoyed bobbing for ducks — and checking the bacteria levels in different NYC water sites —  in our carnival game at Works on Water.



The six water sites in our game are among dozens tested weekly each summer for enterococcus bacteria — a good indicator of waste products in the water — by the Citizens’ Water Quality Testing Program. This program, now in its seventh year, was started by kayakers who wanted to know how clean their water was. It relies on volunteers to collect water samples each week and deliver them to research labs across the city. Scientists test the samples and publish the results online 24 hours later.

There are many elements that impact the quality of our water. Measuring the quantity of enterococcus bacteria doesn’t account for all of them, and the amount of bacteria can vary widely from week to week or even day to day, depending on sewer overflow, weather, and other factors. But this program allows us to see, over a long period of time, which sites fall within the city Department of Health’s standards for swimming on most days, and which sites generally need more attention and resources to become places where we can swim, boat, and enjoy the water.

Click here to learn more about the program, look at the results from every water site, or sign up to volunteer!