New York

NYCHA could have quickly tracked the 24-hour water test. Instead, I decided to wait a few weeks for the results.

After the number of tenant complaints about cloudy water at the Jacob Leith House began to spike this summer, NYCHA executives decided the tap water there needed to be tested.

But instead of ordering a speedy test with results within 24 hours, NYCHA Chief Operating Officer Eva Trimble decided there was no rush.

As a result, weeks passed between when the water was first sampled and when NYCHA first said: Arsenic detected in Riis waterAnd NYCHA delayed announcing the results to tenants and the public for another week.

NYCHA’s slow response to a rapid and alarming surge in water quality complaints at a tense city council hearing held Friday by Oversight and Investigation Commission Chairman Gail Brewer and Public Housing Commission Chairman Alexa Aviles. A portrait of the correspondence emerged.

It’s the first time a NYCHA executive has taken the oath after testing positive for arsenic, and elected officials challenge NYCHA’s claims it best handled Leith’s water crisis. This was the first time I had the opportunity.

On September 2, the NYCHA suddenly announced that tests had found arsenic in Riis water, and a week later announced that the tests were faulty and the water contained no arsenic at all. Meanwhile, the city’s health department has advised tenants not to drink water or cook.

The tenants lived in fear for a week and now don’t know who to trust.

Frustrated by the NYCHA’s response, residents flocked to Friday’s hearings to demand answers. But initially, dozens of tenants wishing to testify were barred from entering the overcrowded little room at 250 Broadway where the hearings were held.

After a shouting match that included a bit of shoving, the hearing was moved to a sprawling conference room at City Hall.

Adding to the lack of confidence in the housing authority’s response, Chairman Gregory Russ did not attend the hearing.

Instead, NYCHA’s newly appointed interim chief executive officer, Lisa Bova-Hiatt, took over. She replaced CEO last week while Russ remained chairman.— tried to calm the water with the delayed Meekalpa.

“I don’t want to leave the board with the impression that NYCHA did everything right. We didn’t,” she admitted. “We know this has been a very disturbing and upsetting experience for residents and we are very sorry.”

But some elected officials have accused NYCHA of not responding quickly to the water crisis.

Trimble testified that he first requested a water test on August 12 at Leith’s Building 11. This building was chosen because of the high concentration of complaints there and because the water tanks for half of the development are on the roof.

She later admitted that she was not informed of the test results until August 29. Asked about the delay by Public Housing Commission Chairman Avilés, Trimble acknowledged: ”

At the time Trimble requested testing, the number of water quality complaints was steadily increasing, peaking at 21 during the week of July 31st to August 6th. By then, Rep. Nidia Velázquez had contacted housing authorities and demanded an explanation.

A week after Trimble ordered the tests without demanding quick results, the number of complaints reached 18.

Juman Williams, a public advocate who participated in the hearing’s interrogation, said the initial response took weeks, but once tests showed the presence of arsenic, all subsequent tests were followed up quickly. Stated.

“Why was the decision made not to rush the test?” he asked.

Trimble said, “I didn’t ride the rush conditions. I had no reason to expect the results I got. I never asked them to hurry up, other than follow up a few times.”

“If you have questions about water, you have to hurry,” Williams replied.

NYCHA and THE CITY report The pump that supplies water to Building 11’s rooftop tank stopped at the same time that complaints spiked in mid-July.

According to Trimble, the pump was not repaired until August 15th.

At the hearing, the NYCHA said for the first time that it believed a pump failure had triggered the arsenic debacle.

“We believe the building 11 pumps are responsible for the muddy water complaints,” Trimble said, noting that most of the complaints were related to the Riis building, which relied on the building 11 tanks. did.

Then, a week after the pump was fixed, she said,

Trimble also said that by mid-July, another NYCHA department discovered a problem with Building 11’s pumps, but that she wasn’t aware of it when she ordered the first water test at Building 11. acknowledged.

Some council members also questioned why the NYCHA relied on the same Illinois-based testing company, Liquitech, to process the Aug. 30 retest, saying they now called the initial results questionable. claim. At the hearing, Daniel Green, director of NYCHA’s Healthy Home Division, which oversees quality-of-life issues, admitted that he would have asked another company to intervene.

Several council members were appalled by the absence of NYCHA Chairman Russ. Bova-Hiatt had to admit that it was Russ himself who decided not to attend.

As for Russ’ actual whereabouts on Friday, NYCHA was unable to say. Since his 2019 appointment, Russ has continued to live in Minneapolis and travel to and from NYCHA at his expense.

When asked where the chairman was, Boba Hyatt replied: Russ isn’t here in New York, so I can’t say where he is. ” NYCHA could have quickly tracked the 24-hour water test. Instead, I decided to wait a few weeks for the results.

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