Complaints about brown water near sewer reconstruction
by Jennifer Khedaroo
May 10, 2017 | 5950 views | 0 0 comments | 50 50 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jackie Cavalla inspects a bottle of discolored water that came from the faucet in her house.
Jackie Cavalla inspects a bottle of discolored water that came from the faucet in her house.
A new challenge has hit the Calamus Avenue Project, a $25 million effort that began in 2014 to increase sewer capacity and reducing flooding in Maspeth.

Some residents say the new work on the long-stalled project is affecting their water.

Richard Gundlach, vice president of Comet Civic Association and member of Community Board 2, lives on 72nd Street near the project. Two weeks after installing a new water filter at his home on April 18, he said it became “absolutely muddy.”

He believes it may be connected to the sewer project, which runs between 69th and 74th streets.

“Overall, the water problem is still here but not in the intensity I saw over that two-week period,” Gundlach said. “In the past, I’ve changed the filter every two months and it was never as bad as it was during those two weeks.”

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) explained that water discoloration sometimes happens when pipes buried under the roadways vibrate and particles of iron settled at the bottom loosen.

Since the water pipes are pressurized, any changes in the flow of water within the pipes can cause them to vibrate.

For resident Jackie Cavalla, the brown water with the particles appeared on the evenings of April 23 and 24. She noticed it coming through the kitchen and bathroom sinks.

Cavalla normally uses a filter, but at the time it was broken. If it had been on, she noted, she probably would not have noticed the changes in the water.

While the water has been running clear since then, Cavalla’s been a bit hesitant to drink it, though she does due to her lack of mobility and inability to run to the store and purchase bottled water.

At a recent COMET meeting, residents believed that it was too much of a coincidence that both homes affected were on 72nd Street.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley’s office on Friday notified COMET members that the DEP will “survey all the fire hydrants and the new water main values on Calamus Avenue and take water samples to be tested by DEP.”

Edward Timbers, DEP’s director of communications, also stated that “DEP crews will investigate the water delivery system in the area to ensure it is operating properly, and if necessary flush hydrants to clear the system.”

In an email to COMET members, president Roe Daraio warned residents to remain vigilant and check the water for sediment until the agency investigates and finds the source of the problem.

“Roe always taught us that if we see something, scream,” Cavalla said. “If it’s wrong, you can always apologize but if not, you might have to save your life. And it’s our responsibility to look out for the seniors in the community.”
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