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NYC Council passes legislation to improve water tank...

Council member Ritchie Torres announces passage of water tank legislative reforms

NYC Council Member Ritchie Torres was joined by NYC H2O advocates for clean water and Bronx resident, Norma Saunders, to announce the passage of water tank legislative reforms.
(Photo by Valeria Villarroel for WFUV News)

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Some water tanks in New York City have been contaminated with dead pigeons, rats, and other pollutants that have threatened public health. Council member Ritchie Torres said there's been a failure to enforce inspections of these tanks. Private building owners, NYCHA, and the department of citywide administrative services are responsible for inspecting the 10,000 tanks citywide tasked with providing drinking water to residents. Torres said the groups responsible for inspecting the tanks have been falsifying their inspection results. His legislative reform aims to stop this from happening.

"The message that we are sending to owners is we will no longer take your word for it. We want you to provide visual evidence so we can see with our own eyes whether a water tank is as safe and as clean as reported," said Torres.

The new legislation to improve the inspection and cleanliness of water tanks also includes unannounced spot checks by health officials, and inspection results must be recorded before tanks are cleaned by specially-trained plumbers.

Norma Saunders is a life-long Bronx resident, and the current president of the Bronx River Tenants Association. She said she's hopeful about this "baby step" towards ensuring clean water for everyone.

"I should be able to turn on my water - or anyone should be able to turn on their water - and say 'ahh, cool refreshing water,' without thinking in the back of their mind that they're gonna get sick from it," said Saunders.

In 2017, only 34 percent of the city's 10,000 water tanks provided proof of inspection.