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American Water Customers Still Seeing Brown

Malverne, West Hempstead and Lynbrook residents continue to deal with dingy tap water.

Jeff Williams, of West Hempstead, will never get used to turning on the faucets in his home and seeing brown water flow out.

Like other customers of New York American Water in West Hempstead, Lynbrook, Malverne and Lakeview, Williams is still experiencing issues with his tap water, but he's refusing to accept the repulsive H2O.

Williams took the photos featured above inside his home this week and shared them with Patch, local officials and on the Facebook page he created ("Malverne and W. Hempstead Want Clean Water"), pleading for help. 

"This is the water conditions we have had to live with since we moved here 5 years ago," he wrote in an email Tuesday. "The water company will continue to make excuses and give answers like 'It’s your pipes,' or 'It’s your water heater,' [but if] you ask any resident they will tell you flat out it is not. It is the water company."

NYAW has received criticism from its customers in the past regarding the color and smell of their tap water, and the residue it sometimes leaves behind, staining clothing, sinks and tubs. As NYAW President Bill Varley explained to residents in 2011, the issues stem from high concentrations of naturally-occuring iron in the water supply.

“Iron has always been an issue in the area … it’s an issue for everyone living on the South Shore, but primarily for those in the western [part],” Varley told Patch in an interview in February 2011. “It’s naturally occurring, it’s not a health hazard, but it is a nuisance.”

Varley explained that iron levels do rise over time and when they reach certain levels, they need to be treated, which is why NYAW has been investing in constructing iron filtration plants. NYAW puts its sixth iron removal plant, located on the Malverne-Lynbrook border, into service in 2011 and it's constructing another one in North Lynbrook.

NYAW treats the water with siliciates to sequester the iron, meaning that it binds it to the H20, so it isn’t visible. However, when heated above 120 degrees, the sequestering agent starts to break down and the iron shows itself in the form of brown-tinged water or sediment.

Although these siliciates are commonly used and approved by the Nassau County Department of Health, according to Varley, some NYAW customers are not comfortable with the process and accuse the utility of only masking the problem rather than fixing it.

"Dissolving the rust means they are hiding it by adding chemicals, which is why they tell us to turn down the settings on the hot water heater," Williams said. "Either way, cold or hot, the rust is still there and the sulfates are abundant. Our water not only looks brown, but it smells like rotten eggs. This is really a horrible situation."

At the February Malverne village board meeting, Mayor Patricia Norris McDonald encouraged residents who are experiencing problems with their tap water to provide the feedback to NYAW, the Public Service Commission and local officials by making phone calls. There is also a form enclosed in customers' water bills that residents should fill out and return to report their tap water issues.

SOUND OFF: How is your tap water looking lately? Tell us about it in the comments section below or upload a photo to the gallery above.

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Christian Gourdin February 21, 2013 at 12:22 PM
Yes! This still happens to me, I thought this was taken care of. How frustrating!! (Malverne resident)
Tom Grech February 22, 2013 at 12:56 AM
Based on the feedback received at this facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/brownwater/ and at my request, a meeting was held this week at Village Hall with Mayor McDonald, Trustee Bailey and DPW Superintendent Paul Jessup. Along with Rich Kern from LIAW and Kevin Manz from NYS DPS, we reviewed all the most recent complaints. It's clear this issue has re-emerged after a relatively long period of few complaints, my home included. A few key points: 1) it's imperative that if you have an issue, you need to make your voice heard. Send an email to: brownwater@groups.facebook.com It will be reviewed by NY DPS and the Public Service Commission 2) LIAW (now NYAW) will be replacing a number of water mains in Malverne in 2013. 3) The Village of Malverne understands this as an important issue and is keeping the pressure on NYAW. Again, YOU NEED TO MAKE IT KNOWN IF YOU HAVE A WATER QUALITY ISSUE.
Ivan Ivanovich February 22, 2013 at 10:52 PM
Great, tear up the roads that were just paved, iron isn't gonna make the water brown, Dudy does that
Michelle February 23, 2013 at 11:16 PM
Omg...Im glad I caught this update! Ive been having the same problems (brown, stinky water). This has been going on too long and needs a resolution immediately. Im wondering what other side affects are happening because of this???

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