By Gina Martinez
Residents of 2nd Avenue in Whitestone said they have been living each day not knowing if they will have water due to insufficient pipes.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) was joined by eight homeowners from 2nd Avenue to call on the city and the DEP to address serious quality-of-life issues regarding their water. Avella said that for years eight homes on 2nd Avenue between 147th Street and 147th Place have dealt with flooding conditions and poor water pressure, if they have had water at all. Residents said the flooding issue was resolved when the city Department of Transportation resurfaced their road but the city has not addressed the lack of water.
Avella said he has reached out to DEP since 2013 about the water problem and has gotten zero response.
Residents are blaming the lack of water on an inadequate, two-inch wide water supply pipe that is not able to service all of the homes on the block. While the DEP has acknowledged in the past that the pipes are not wide enough, Avella contends the DEP has refused to take any action.
Homeowners said that when a pipe on the corner of 147th Place and 2nd Avenue broke last June, the DEP claimed it was a private line and refused to get involved. Residents said they were forced to pay out of pocket for someone to repair the broken pipe and were then charged by the department $1,000 each to have the water turned backed on.
Residents deny that they are using a private pipe.
A DEP spokesman said that engineers were investigating.
“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?” 2nd Avenue resident Georgia Theofanis asked. “The city is providing us with water.”
Theofanis said homes on 2nd Avenue can sometimes go from six to eight hours without water.
“Many times we wake up and there’s nothing coming out of our faucets,” she said. “We can’t take a shower, flush the toilet, or even drink water. 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.”
Avella wonders why the city will pave roads, but not provide adequate water service. He said 2nd Avenue is clearly not a private street and he and the neighbors are renewing their call for the city and the DEP to begin a capital project on the street in order to install sufficient water pipes.
The senator said when a capital project is requested, it usually takes a minimum of five years before action is taken. His original request is already more than five years old. Avella said the city should be ashamed for depriving taxpayers of a decent quality of life.
“Imagine getting up every morning and not knowing if you’re going to have any water in your house that day,” he said. “That is exactly what is happening to these homeowners. They pay their water and sewer bills like every other New York homeowner, but the city withholds basic city services from them. It is so frustrating that the city bureaucracy won’t come and help these people, but they’re going to have to. You shouldn’t have to live like this, that’s the bottom line.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart