Water continues to test negative for arsenic at Manhattan NYCHA complex

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Wednesday, September 7, 2022
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New water test results continue to come back negative for arsenic at the Jacob Riis Houses in East Village of Manhattan.

EAST VILLAGE, Manhattan (WABC) -- New water test results continue to come back negative for arsenic at a NYCHA complex in the East Village of Manhattan Tuesday night.

Throughout the holiday weekend, thousands of tenants at the Jacob Riis Houses were forced to use water bottles and portable water stations after being told not to drink or cook with the water from their taps.

NYCHA started testing the water a few weeks ago after reports of cloudy water. On Friday, test results revealed traces of arsenic. On Sunday, a test did not find elevated levels and on Monday, the results of additional and more precise testing came back negative for arsenic.

That was followed by continued negative tests on Tuesday.

"We continue to receive encouraging results from water tests at Riis Houses," said a spokesperson for the office of Mayor Eric Adams. "All original water delivery points that were previously thought to test positive for arsenic have been retested and have now been found to be negative."

The mayor's office is still advising residents not to drink or cook with the water while it awaits more results of tests from samples from 140 additional places around the complex. So far, 58 sites that have been tested have returned negative for arsenic.

In response to the directive to keep all documents related to the investigation, the city said it was already retaining records and "will continue to be transparent with the public."

The city says there is no evidence the arsenic levels were connected to the cloudy water.

A city official said as testing now indicates the contaminant is not emanating from the water supply into the complex, the focus has shifted to the plumbing system at Riis itself. One possibility is that construction from Superstorm Sandy repairs, as well as work on the heating system, displaced soil that now may have entered the system. The city will not comment on speculation.

The initial positive samples, about five or six, came from two high-rise buildings, where unlike others, when the water leaves the main line, it goes into a roof tank.

NYCHA has said rebuilding trust in the East Village community tops the list. They said if the new samples also indicate elevated levels of arsenic, the next steps will take some time to trace and track the source of the problem.

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