MASPETH, Queens — Most homeowners have no idea what kind of hoses help supply their drinking water. In 2015, as part of the $25 million dollar Calamus Avenue Sewer project, in Maspeth, Queens, what were supposed to be temporary water hoses were installed underneath homes from 69th to 74th streets on Calamus Avenue.
Resident Ben Geremia decided to call the manufacturer of the red hose. He was stunned when the customer service rep for HBD Thermoid told him the hose, the Valuflex GS 200, is not to be used as a drinking water hose. In an email, the company said “Any hose used for drinking water should be designated for potable water use (which means safe for drinking). We do not manufacture a potable water hose. “
“I certainly didn’t want to drink water from this,” said Ben as he held up a section of the red hose. He complained to the site foreman from CAC Industries, the contractor on the sewer project. As a result, the red hoses were replaced with hoses certified as safe for drinking water. But that was only done for Ben’s home and others on his block. That was two years ago.
The homes on the other blocks along Calamus Avenue did not have their red hoses replaced. Those homeowners didn’t even know about the substandard hoses supplying their drinking water until a few months ago. That’s when CAC began digging up the streets again for the next phase of the sewer project exposing the red hoses. Ben Geremia told homeowner Nan Chen, who lives two blocks away, what he’d learned two years ago. Chen, who is married with two young children, says “I’m afraid these hoses will leak out toxic chemicals.”
Chen and other residents are angry that CAC left those hoses in the ground to supply their drinking water to their homes for up to two years after the same hoses were replaced on Geremia’s block. We contacted CAC, based in Long Island City, but no one got back to us. What a Shame!
The NYC Department of Design and Construction, the DDC, is in charge of supervising public projects, including the Calamus Avenue Sewer project. Queens City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley complained to the DDC about the substandard hoses. “The commissioner assured me that those hoses were no longer going to be used,” she said.
The red hoses are now being replaced by copper pipes which are being put in place.
The DDC has now changed its regulations as a result of the mistake in Maspeth. In a statement to PIX11, a spokesman says “The agency has added a new specification to its construction requirements that mandates that only hose manufactured for potable water be used in future projects.”
The NYC Department of Environmental Protection says its recent tests show the water in those homes on Calamus Avenue is safe to drink. But Chen and other residents are still concerned. “Who knows if we got sick, years from now, who knows what would happen.”