Dangerous arsenic levels found in tap water at Manhattan NYCHA complex

ByJohny Fernandez via WABC logo
Monday, September 5, 2022
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A residential meeting was held Sunday afternoon after dangerous levels of arsenic were found in the tap water at a NYCHA complex in the East Village. Naveen Dhaliwal has more.

EAST VILLAGE, Manhattan (WABC) -- A residential meeting was held Sunday afternoon after dangerous levels of arsenic were found in the tap water at a NYCHA complex in the East Village.

More than 2,500 people living at the NYCHA complex have been told not to drink or cook with water from their taps.

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

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is hoping residents of the Riis Houses follow suit and take advantage of portable water stations now set up.

This comes after officials warned residents in an emergency notice on Friday not to cook with or drink water coming from of their taps. Recent testing at the NYCHA complex in the East Village detected arsenic levels higher than the federal standard for drinking water.

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.

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.

Residents are terrified to use tap water to wash fruits and vegetables, let alone shower.

"My daughter was here (Sunday) morning, she couldn't bathe her son because the water came out and it went down and it was all sandy," resident Susie Levy said.

The mayor's office says NYCHA started testing the water last month at the 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.

"I do have concern of why it took so long to go from August 3rd to the 13th for additional test and why it would additional 10/12 days after that for results, that is a problem," NYC Pubblic Advocate Jumaane Williams said.

Late Sunday afternoon the city said new results yesterday did not detect arsenic from the water source entering the building and from the main line, hence why Williams is able to do this.

What's happening after the water flows through the buildings is still not clear.

"I used to go to a third world country when I was younger, Dominican Republic is my home country and there you can't drink the house water so it kind of feels like we are regressing as a culture, as an advanced civilization," resident Kelly Guillon said.

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

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