A scathing investigative report published by the New York Times Monday paints a dark picture of the “Big Apple’s” water tanks, saying many have recently tested positive for E. coli and go years without inspection or cleaning.
According to the Times, “Even some (water tanks) that are routinely maintained contain E. coli.”
“Samplings taken by The New York Times from water towers at 12 buildings in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn found E. coli in five tanks, and coliform in those tanks and three more,” the Times reported. “Coliform by itself is not harmful, but does indicate that conditions are ripe for the growth of potentially dangerous microorganisms.”
The Times also found that many of the “rustic-looking vessels” are often filled with “thick layers of muddy sediment.”
“Many have not been cleaned or inspected in years,” the Times reported. “And regulations governing water tanks are rarely enforced, an examination by The New York Times shows.”
Once, a superintendent of a building allegedly found a pigeon bone in a resident’s kitchen faucet after his repeated calls for the building’s dirty water tank to be cleaned.
Another potential concern, says the Times, is the use of an epoxy to repair tanks that is not approved for use in drinking water and is a violation of the city’s health cold. At least two of the three companies that “dominate the tank installation business” reportedly use the epoxy.
One expert the Times consulted actually became so worried by these findings that he contacted the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
“Fecal contamination means that the towers are subject to animal intrusion, almost certainly birds and potentially animals such as squirrels,” Dr. Edberg wrote in an email to the department, according to The Times.
Nevertheless, The Times reported that “city health officials insist that the tanks are safe, and that the laws governing them are adequate.”
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