EAST VILLAGE, Manhattan (PIX11) – Decent drinking water from the tap is something many of us take for granted, but not a group of East Village residents from the Jacob Riis Houses who say their tap water is undrinkable.
“Look at how cloudy this water is. Wow,” said Leslie Bright Reid, a resident of Jacob Riis Houses who showed PIX11 News what a glass of the water looked like.
When asked if she would drink the water, resident Martha Lozano said, “Not until the politicians and the officials drink it. Then I would drink.”
Lozano, 69, has been living in her 11th-floor apartment at the Jacob Riis houses on the Lower East Side for more than 25 years and she has never seen her tap water look like it does until last month.
It’s milky and cloudy and leaves what she calls a residue when she washes her pots and pans. “I have a Down syndrome sister,” Lozano said. “She has accidents constantly and I have to wash her. I cannot use this water to wash her. At least they should reimburse us for the bottled water we spend.”
In her apartment, neighbors gathered to talk about the cloudy water problem throughout their building at 466 East 10th Street. They want answers from the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and they want to be reimbursed for all the bottled water they have had to buy at more than $2 apiece.
“I have brown spots on the water,” said resident Susie Ayala. “I have to buy gallons and gallons of water. I can’t cook with it. I can’t take a bath in it. It’s not fair.”
Lozano showed PIX11 News the response she says she received when she wrote to Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez. It’s from a water testing company, Environmental Building Solutions, which tested for coliform and E. coli bacteria. The conclusion: it is bacteriologically fit to drink. But Lozano and her neighbors aren’t buying that.
The residents wonder if the long-term construction project out front is to blame as they wait for answers from NYCHA.
“NYCHA has a lot of problems and NYCHA needs to take responsibility,” said community leader and advocate Dave Brasuell. ”These people pay their rent. This is not acceptable. You’ve got seniors and the disabled and they need their water.”
PIX11 News reached out to NYCHA about this issue, which provided the following statement.
“NYCHA received reports of cloudy water at Jacob Riis Houses and is working with DEP to test the water, followed by water tank cleaning. There are no reports of a negative water quality impact on residents. We will actively keep residents apprised of the testing status and results.”