Brown water raises Five Towns residents ire

South Shore customers not happy with Merrick-based New York American Water

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Brown water and rate hikes have many Five Towns residents angry at New York American Water, the Merrick-based utility company serves communities along the South Shore.

Inwood resident Frank Manzo posted on Facebook about the brown water coming out of his tap, “Is anyone else experiencing tan-brownish water in the Inwood or Five Towns area?,” he asked. “I’ve gone back and forth with NY Water for the last few weeks and I’m looking to see if anyone else is having an issue.”

Manzo certainly isn’t the only resident complaining. Daniel Gluck, of Cedarhurst, emailed the Herald about the color of his water following an article on the rate hike in August of 2018. “We all put in house filters, which don’t help when we get a flow of brown water,” he wrote.

“As a relatively new homeowner in Cedarhurst, I was very surprised that this is considered normal and people accept it as a fact of life.”

Gluck followed up with the Herald to explain how his water quality has worsened on Feb. 2. “The brown water situation has become intolerable, and has become a major quality of life issue in Cedarhurst,” he wrote.

“This evening I ran the water for over an hour and the brown water would not go way. It is also occurring more frequently that in the past.”

Gluck added that he took a sample of the water that he hopes to have tested to determine if it could be causing any harm to himself or his family, however, American Water contests that it poses no damage to people.

“Water discoloration is caused by higher levels of iron in the water and is particularly prominent on Long Island’s South Shore where naturally occurring iron deposits in the aquifer are most significant,” American Water President Lynda DiMenna said. “While it is not a health risk, discolored water can lead to things such as stained laundry.”

DiMenna said, American Water has invested in replacing water mains — broken pipes can contribute the stained water — and strategically located iron removal treatment facilities.

“Aging water mains, sporadic water main breaks, old and poorly maintained hot water heaters are all things that can contribute to discolored water,” she said. “If a customer experiences discolored water, we suggest that they let the cold water line run for a couple of minutes until it clears. Next, we would encourage them to flush their hot water heater of any debris or sediment that could have built up over time. If the problem persists, we ask that they to contact our customer service center at 1-(877) 426-6999 so someone from our water quality team can investigate the matter further.”

More than 430 customer complaints have been logged by State Sen. Todd Kaminsky’s office in August, on the issue of exponentially higher water bills and poor response to the problem from American Water. The federal Government Accountability Office launched an investigation into how the company uses federal funds, at the behest of U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer that month.

“The steady drip-drip-drip of dubious charges, rate hikes and bad billing demanded the federal government step in and do a deep dive into New York American Water,” Schumer said in a statement.

American Water has more information on iron in drinking water, at https://amwater.com/nyaw/water-quality/iron-in-drinking-water.

Have an opinion about brown water or American Water? Send your letter to the editor to jbessen@liherald.com.