Long Beach City's water and sewer facilities have lacked phone service since superstorm Sandy -- and city officials are blaming telecommunications giant Verizon for its inability to fix the problem.
Verizon officials say the company is working to solve the problem, which was caused by damage Sandy inflicted on phone lines. They also say the lack of service isn't the company's fault, because the lines are leased to another firm.
Jim LaCarrubba, the city's public works commissioner and a former Verizon employee, said the lack of service has made it difficult for city officials and the public to communicate with the city's water purification plant, water transmission and maintenance facility, and sewer maintenance facility. City officials and residents need to communicate with workers in those buildings to safeguard the city's water quality and water pressure, he said.
"The water purification plant is a critical piece of infrastructure. Residents call there when they have issues or concerns," LaCarrubba said. "We need to be able to communicate with our water plant."
Verizon leases the lines that serve the water facilities to Broadview Networks, a Westchester County-based firm, said Verizon spokesman John Bonomo. The lines were damaged and need to be replaced, said Bonomo, who added that Verizon will work with Broadview to fix the problem.
"The company is aware of the city's request for repair services," Bonomo said. "We have reached out to the city's telecommunications provider, Broadview, and stand ready to assist them in any way possible, as soon as possible."
Attempts to reach representatives for Broadview were not successful.
LaCarrubba said the city has resorted to calling its water and sewer employees on their personal cellphones because the facilities' phones don't work. Jack Scully, chief plant operator at the water purification facility, racked up a bill of more than $800 in November -- three times his usual bill.
"It's costing the city money," said LaCarrubba, who worked for Verizon as a field technician from 1996 to 2006. He was also on the executive board of the union that represented Verizon workers in Suffolk County.
Verizon provides phone service to other city facilities, LaCarrubba said. The city paid the firm about $6,200 for November and December, he said.