Lakeview residents have complained for years about the area’s water quality, especially its brown color, but have increased their efforts to get the problem fixed after water contamination in Flint, Michigan, became a national story.
“I was concerned for some time, but Flint helped elevate my awareness,” said Sherrie Flournoy, a licensed social worker who lives in Lakeview. “A few months ago, I was getting a sulphur-like smell from the water, and I get the brown water from time to time.”
Will Ingram, a maintenance supervisor for Hempstead Town and the pastor of a Queens church, said the brown water stained the bottom of his pool. His wife, Gwen, won’t use it to cook with.
Reginald Baron, a supervisor for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said the filter on his refrigerator lasts about two months when it should last six. “I had so much brown gunk in my humidifier, I was surprised it still worked,” he said.
About 100 people attended a March 21 meeting about the water quality hosted by Nassau County Legis. Siela Bynoe, (D-Westbury), who represents Lakeview. Sixty-four residents signed up to have their water tested by the company that operates the water supply system., she said.
Some residents are still waiting to be contacted for those tests.
New York American Water of Merrick runs the system that supplies Lakeview. Vice president Christopher Buday said last week that the company “fully intends to meet with each customer requesting a personal water quality evaluation. The individual tests will be made after April 18, 2016, when the annual water main flushing is complete,” he said.
Company officials are already scheduling appointments, Buday said.
New York American Water president Brian Bruce said the issue of Lakeview’s brown water was one of “aesthetics, not health.”
“The water is safe,” he said in an interview.
Mary Ellen Laurain, a spokeswoman for the Nassau County Department Health, also said the water was safe to use. “We review the [company’s] test results weekly, and also we perform our own surveillance sampling, and have determined the water supply meets all regulated water quality standards.”
Laurain and Bruce attributed the brown color to iron in the water, but said it posed no health hazard.
Nonetheless, Bruce last week said American Water is spending $1.4 million to put a portable iron removal treatment plant in place this month. The treatment will ensure that “a majority of the iron content stays behind,” according to a company report.
The community’s water is provided by a well on Chautauqua Avenue in Lakeview that delivers 2 million gallons of water daily to more than 3,000 households, according to a company fact sheet. The well was built in 1950.
Bea Bayley, an activist in the community, said “Everybody paid attention after Flint, and one troublesome thing at the March 21 meeting was the map American Water showed us. It was clear that the work they had done to clean up the water was east of Eagle Avenue and west of Ocean Avenue, not where most of us live.”