Imagine taking a shower before work and gray water comes out. Then, you make a pot of coffee, and water the color of coffee floods out.
This has been the unfortunate experience of some Marine Park and Madison residents who have been complaining of discolored tap water since late December.
“The discolored water was likely caused by three water main breaks/leaks that happened in that area on three separate dates,” the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said in a statement. “Anytime there is a disruption to the way the water typically flows through the distribution system, it can result in discolored water. DEP crews made the necessary repairs and opened fire hydrants to flush the discolored water from the system.”
Ian Girshek, legislative director for Assemblywoman Jaime Williams, said their office didn’t receive any recent complaints, but said there was a recent water main break on Ford Street in Gerritsen Beach that could have caused some of the problem.
However, some residents have been experiencing ongoing coloration problems that couldn’t be caused by an isolated water main break. Gina Ferrara, who lives in an apartment building on Nostrand Avenue, said that she has been getting brown and black tap, shower and toilet water on and off, sometimes for hours at a time, since last spring.
“This is almost a year this is going on — so give me an explanation,” Ferrara, who’s lived in her building for 25 years, said.
Ferrara’s building super never gave her an explanation, and she reported the issue to 311 and DEP. She received a response from DEP Water Supply Bureau Supervisor Ralph Riccardi.
“All parameters meet drinking water quality standards set by the NYS Department of Health and the United States Environmental Protection Agency,” the letter read in part, also stating that the resident’s drinking water is of high quality and safe to use.
Despite this report, the issue never stopped occurring and Ferrara and her neighbors are hesitant to use the water. One resident, Ed Kenny, actually bought water filters to combat the problem. After he complained to 311 in 2021, DEP flushed the water mains in the area, but the problem continued.
Residents have spread word of the problem on social media for years. Regardless of the cause, they just want the problem fixed.
“If someone says, ‘Look, here’s the documentation that you can still brush your teeth, boil your water, take a shower with this and drink it, and this is the reason it’s happening,’ then I will be fine with that,” Ferrara said. “If you can give me documentation and prove it’s credible, that’s all I want.”