Happy Water Week NYC everyone! As this annual event showcases the most promising new innovations to solve local and global water issues, we took a closer look at one of our city’s most precious resources – our tasty tap water. New York City tap water has long been lauded for its crisp flavor and drinkability, but did you know that it is also home to tiny crustaceans called copepods? The discovery of the miniature organisms – which are distant relatives of the lobster – in our drinking supply has sparked a debate about whether NYC tap water is kosher or not.

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So how did these lil’ buggers get into our water in the first place? Copepods are found naturally all around the world but have also been added to water in the tri-state area to combat mosquitoes (they like to feed on mosquito larvae).

According to The New York Times, the crustacean was noticed by rabbis in Brooklyn more than a decade ago. Reddit user ftothe3 is also credited with discovering the tiny shrimp when he H&E (Hematoxylin and eosin) stained a sample from his tap and looked at it under a microscope.

The ingestion of tiny shrimp-like creatures is clearly not vegan (although many vegans would argue that they don’t consider microscopic organisms to be animals), but whether or not it is kosher is more debatable. Kosher law prohibits followers from eating shrimp, lobster and other waterborne creatures without fins and scales. But as the NY Times points out, the rule only refers to species that can be seen with the naked eye (some larger copepods can and smaller ones can’t). What do you think? Tell us in the comments below.

This video of a dwarf seahorse gobbling up a copepod gives a better idea of the scale of these creatures.

Via Reddit, Gizmodo and The New York Times

Lead image via Shutterstock