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Cleaning up the water one building at a time

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Q. What are the options for installing a water filtration system for a whole building?  How much does it cost to install and maintain? Is there any recommended way to "sell" this to the board and to shareholders--for instance, does a filter system increase property values?  I live in a 150-unit postwar building.

A.  According to BrickTank plumbing expert Philip J. Kraus, whose company has installed over 200 central water filtration systems in the city, the cost runs from $8,000 to $80,000, depending on the amount of water your building uses, the pipe configuration and the type of filtration system.

One of the primary benefits of a central water system is getting rid of brown water.

“Brown water is quite common because NYC water can be high in sediment and silt as it makes its way down from upstate reservoirs,” says Kraus, the president of Fred Smith Plumbing & Heating, and the CEO of Culligan Water Conditioning of Manhattan.

“As the water passes through the city’s distribution of aged piping, corrosion byproducts and particulate matter are picked up along the way as well," according to Kraus.

All that gunk can stress out a building’s mechanical systems as much as the residents.

“Sediment can build up in the pipes and cause obstructions,” says Kraus. “It can burden the heating equipment, HVAC equipment, laundry room equipment and reduce the overall efficiency in most if not all of the building’s mechanical systems, which results in extra plumbing and heating repairs over time.”

He says pretreating the water with a filtration system results in lower utility bills and operating costs.

Our experts disagreed whether a water filtration system would increase property values though.

“I have only heard about this in a very few, high-end buildings,” says Deanna Kory of Corcoran. “It’s a good selling point for resale, though how much value is added is hard to quantify.”

Lynn Whiting, director of management at The Argo Corporation, said that boards would probably need to be convinced that there was a problem with the water before approving this type of project.  

Kraus explains that there are primary types of central water filtration systems:
•    The bag water filtration system
•    The cartridge water filtration system
•    The depth water filtration system

The first two remove particles as small as 25 microns and tend to be less expensive to install, but require more maintenance.  The depth water filtration system can remove particles as small as 10 microns and requires far less upkeep.

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