Dangerous arsenic levels found in tap water at Manhattan NYCHA complex

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Tuesday, September 6, 2022
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People living at a NYCHA complex have been told not to drink or cook with water from their taps after testing found dangerous levels of arsenic. Johny Fernandez has the latest details.

EAST VILLAGE, Manhattan (WABC) -- More than 2,500 people living at a NYCHA complex in the East Village have been told not to drink or cook with water from their taps after city testing found dangerous levels of arsenic.

Residents of the Jacob Riis Houses filled up carts on Saturday night with free cases of water.

"To cook or to drink, if they keep giving us water, that will be good," said Josefina Reyes.

Residents received flyers telling them not to drink or cook with water from the faucet due to levels of arsenic higher than EPA standards consider safe.

Some residents noticed that something is off.

"It doesn't smell right - it's like cloudy, like cloudy water," said Valerie Ruiz.

The mayor's office says NYCHA started testing the water last month at the Lower East Side complex after reports of the water looking unusual - that is when they discovered the high levels of arsenic. They said while there does not seem to be a connection between arsenic and cloudy water, it has since taken action to provide safe water while doing more testing to find the source.

Residents say they are worried.

"A lot of people drink that and giving it to their kids, and a lot of people get affected by that, that's not right," said Tashaka Owens.

NYCHA staff have been going to apartments and running the water to flush out the pipes, which may make the situation even worse.

"The water - like a brown. Everything brown," said Arturo Olivo.

On Saturday, the Manhattan Borough President tweeted that no arsenic contamination has been found in the surrounding neighborhood.

Mayor Adams has been stopping by the Riis Houses to assure residents the city is working on the problem, and is trying to keep them safe.

"Hurry up and clean the water up so everybody can be back to normal," added Ruiz.

Neither the DEP nor NYCHA have said what might have caused the high levels, and residents wonder if all the construction could have anything to do with it.

The work is a direct result of the flooding after Hurricane Sandy, to protect residents from, of all things - water.

A residential meeting will be held Sunday afternoon to discuss the issue.

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