By Madina Toure
A Whitestone man is calling out the city Department of Environmental Protection for not aggressively handling water leak problems at his home.
Arthur Pace, 53, said that in March, his wife was in the backyard of their home at 146-45 13th Ave. when she heard water spewing out of the abutment that supports the bridge onto the Cross Island Parkway. The backyard is near the bridge.
She called 311 and was referred to the Fire Department, which came and said the DEP would have to fix the problem.
Between March and the middle of August, Pace has called 311 eight times. He said that although the DEP has sent workers to address the problem, they did not do much to fix it except for shutting off the valves on either side of the bridge.
Water was running into Pace’s driveway and the saturated soil caused cracks in the sidewalk. He also noted that cars often use the middle lane instead of the exit lane to miss the water. And people have been walking in the streets to avoid the sidewalks.
Two weeks ago, DEP workers came to the home, but they said the contractor was busy in the Bronx, Pace said.
“The leak got worse, to the point that you would hear when cars drove on the parkway, you’ll hear a splash so there was a puddle across the Cross Island, which is right behind us.”
The water main runs through the bridge, which is the roadway for 147th Street, Pace said.
When the FDNY arrived in March, Pace called the DEP and told them the water leak was displacing the soil in the bridge above it and that it would eventually lead to a partial or complete collapse of the abutments.
A DEP worker came at the end of March and attributed the leak to thaw from the winter, but Pace insisted the problem originated from a crack in the pipe. The worker left, he said.
A couple of weeks later, Pace called 311 again and explained that the water was getting onto the parkway, noting that because the water main is below the street level, when it is under pressure and it leaks, it will seek the lowest point because of gravity.
The FDNY came back in May and Pace met with them, expecting a crew to come out, dig the bridge and replace the water main.
One of four times Pace called 311 in May, he was working from home and saw DEP workers, who initially did not see a huge leak.
“He said, ‘We don’t see a leaking other than this little spot,” Pace said. “I said, ‘Well look down over the bridge’ and they looked and saw the puddle on the Cross Island and the guy was like, ‘Oh, you think it’s the same leak?’ and I said, ‘Of course it’s the same leak.’”
In May, the DEP shut off the two valves. Over the past month, Pace and his wife kept calling the DEP every couple of weeks.
He said the same DEP workers who came in May came back in June. One of the workers said he told his office that the DEP had assigned the leak to a contractor because the agency thought that the valves were not holding.
Pace asked for the problem to be put on the emergency list, but the worker said he would give the information to his boss because the DEP hires outside contractors.
DEP officials said the agency made temporary repairs and that design is underway for more complete results.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour