‘There’s nothing there’: Whitestone residents enraged over frequent water outages on their block

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On too many recent mornings, Georgia Theofanis and many of her Whitestone neighbors have woken up, turned on their faucets and discovered that they were bone dry.

“We can go maybe six, seven or eight hours without water. We can’t take a shower, flush the toilet or even drink water,” Theofanis said. “There’s nothing there. It happens to all eight houses at the same time. Maybe we’ll have some water but it will be drips at a time. It’s not once or twice; it’s an ongoing thing.”

Other residents living in eight homes on Second Avenue between 147th Street and 147th Place say they face low water pressure or, at certain times, have no access at all to water in their homes. The issue has impacted the residents for over five years.

They drew attention to the problem during an April 11 press conference organized by state Senator Tony Avella, who said he has contacted the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) about the issue since 2013.

According to Avella’s office, a pipe on the corner of 147th Place and Second Avenue burst in June 2017. The city claimed it was a private line and homeowners paid out of pocket. Still, the homes sit on a city-owned street.

Homeowners say the source of the problem is a water supply pipe that is too small to service all of the homes. This is an issue the city has acknowledged in the past, residents said, but hasn’t fixed.

“This is not a private pipe,” Theofanis said. “We have sanitation, we get mail, we pay taxes, and we don’t have private anything else so why would we need a private water supply? The city is providing us with water.”

“We can’t even invite people to come over for a party because in the middle of the party there’s no water,” homeowner Mary Ip added. “It’s very annoying.”

Avella and homeowners called on DEP to begin a capital project to replace current pipe with one that will provide sufficient service to the local residences.

“Imagine getting up every morning and not knowing if you’re going to have any water in your house that day,” the state Senator said. “That is exactly what is happening to these homeowners.”

A DEP spokesperson told QNS that engineers from the city agency are currently investigating the situation at the site.

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