Public water supply sources and drinking water reservoirs sometimes contain very low levels of Cryptosporidium oocysts. City of Syracuse water quality tests sporadically detect Cryptosporidium oocysts in the Skaneateles Lake tributaries, the water system intakes, and very rarely, in the distribution system.
Current testing methods cannot determine with certainty whether Cryptosporidium detected in drinking water is alive or whether it can infect humans. In addition, the current method often requires several days to get results, by which time the tested water has already been used by the public and is no longer in the community's water pipes. Scientists do not know the threshold for numbers of oocysts that will cause someone with a healthy or a severely compromised immune system to contract cryptosporidiosis.
In the event of a known outbreak of cryptosporidiosis attributed to drinking water supply, the City of Syracuse Department of Water, in consultation with the Onondaga County Health Department, would provide notification through local media. Detailed information for all consumers, including any mandatory protection measures, would be provided in the notice.
No known outbreak of cryptosporidiosis has occurred from the Skaneateles Lake or Metropolitan Water Board Lake Ontario drinking water supplies. At this time, there is no evidence of a significant risk of contracting cryptosporidiosis from City of Syracuse drinking water.
Cryptosporidium and Giardia
Surface water supplies and some groundwater supplies may contain either of 2 microscopic parasitic protozoa of concern: Cryptosporidium and Giardia.
The New York State law requires water suppliers to notify their customers about the risks of cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis.
Cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis are intestinal illnesses caused by microscopic parasites. Cryptosporidiosis can be very serious for people with weak immune systems, such as recipients of chemotherapy, steroid therapy, dialysis or organ transplants, and people with Crohn’s disease or HIV infection. People with weakened immune systems should discuss with their health care providers the need to take regular extra precautions, such as boiling water at a rolling boil for at least 1 minute, or using certified bottled water or a specially approved home filter. Individuals who think they may have cryptosporidiosis or giardiasis should contact their health care provider immediately.
The Syracuse Water Department routinely monitors water from our primary water supply, Skaneateles Lake, for the presence of both Giardia and Cryptosporidium. The chlorination contact time that the system is able to provide routinely oxidizes Giardia and renders it harmless, except at a few service connections to our transmission pipelines located between Skaneateles Lake and Syracuse. Cryptosporidium in a water supply poses more of a concern, since, unlike Giardia, it is not controllable with chlorination at the normal doses utilized in water systems. For test results, see the City of Syracuse Water Department’s Annual Drinking Water Quality Report.
In addition to Skaneateles Lake water, the City occasionally supplements its supply with Lake Ontario water supplied by the Metropolitan Water Board (MWB), an Onondaga County agency. The City normally relies on Lake Ontario water during times when drought conditions limit the available supply from Skaneateles, during emergencies, or during periods of high consumption. Since the MWB system is connected to the City’s system on the north side of the City, this area may receive water from Lake Ontario from time to time. Visit Metropolitan Water Board’s website for information on the quality and testing of this water source.
Drinking contaminated water is just one of several ways that Cryptosporidium can be transmitted. To see more information about cryptosporidiosis and other means of transmission, visit the NYS Department of Health website.
For more information on giardiasis visit the NYS Department of Health website.