The water that comes out of a hydrant is identical to the water that comes out of a kitchen faucet; it is potable, drinkable water. The hydrant and the faucet are related in that they are simply different types of appliances which provide access to the city’s water supply.
Water constantly flows in large pipes (water mains) beneath the streets. Smaller pipes branch off the main line to service each building. According to the DEP, hydrants are usually installed about every 250 feet along a water main.6
Over 95% of water coming into the city, including hydrant water, is gravity fed — the force of water flowing from higher elevations pushes it through pipes without the aid of mechanized pumps.7; In buildings taller than six stories, however, pumps carry water into the wooden towers dotting the city rooftops. In higher elevations of the city, all of the water is pumped.
New Yorkers use over 1.35 billion gallons daily. Each day, 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater return to the system.8 Shower drains and sidewalk gutters collect wastewater and storm water runoff in the same set of pipes and send it to the wastewater treatment plant. The plant discharges clean water into local water bodies where it once again becomes part of the natural hydrologic cycle of evaporation and precipitation.