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Posted on: September 21, 2018

Community Update Re: RI Drinking Fountains

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Community Update about Roosevelt Island Drinking Fountains


It appears that certain members of the Roosevelt Island community are misinterpreting data from our two recent laboratory tests of water samples from Island drinking fountains and are causing undue alarm.


After reviewing a second round of Roosevelt Island outdoor fountain water laboratory test results, a health official from the NYS Department of Health, in a statement we released August 8, said the water is up to standard.


“With the exception of Capobianco Park, the review of water quality results - analyzed the second time by a New York State Department of Health Environmental Laboratory Approval Program certified laboratory (Long Island Analytical Laboratory Inc.,) are consistent with the water quality being delivered by the New York City water system and meet all applicable drinking water standards,” said Roger C. Sokol, Ph.D., director of the Division of Environmental Health Protection, NYS Department of Health.


(Read the entire statement here or see attached PDF).


Water test results of two fountains at Capobianco Field showed slightly higher (>738) than normal (500) levels of heterotrophic plate counts which is an indicator of low-chlorine residual. Chlorine is present in all New York City drinking water to reduce bacteria. However, no coliform or E. coli bacteria was found.


On July 6, due to citizen concerns raised about water quality in the Island’s drinking fountains, RIOC immediately shut down the water supply systems in all parks and playgrounds and conducted testing from 10 different fountains and one splash park location. RIOC conducted two independent tests of the water quality; one each by Healthy Buildings Inc. and Long Island Analytical Laboratories Inc.


The water samples were analyzed in three different categories: microbiological, inorganic analytes (metals) and physical factors; and included determining the existence of, and or levels of items such as bacteria, chloride, iron, lead and sulfates.


On July 23, RIOC hired a plumbing engineer, Cameron Engineering & Associates of New York, to complete an assessment of all water connection points from New York City water to Island parks’ distribution. Until RIOC receives that report and, if required, drafts a remediation plan, all the drinking water fountains will remain off.


However, the NYS Department of Health has advised RIOC that the splash park area, near the tot lot play area at Blackwell Park, can, and has been, turned back on.


At the request of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA), in a formal letter sent to us on July 25, a meeting was scheduled and held September 14 with RIRA President Jeff Escobar and the co-chairs of RIRA’s Island Services Committee, Dr. Roger Sokol of DOH, a representative from Long Island Analytical, and RIOC executive staff and board members. The background of this issue and the testing results were discussed, all questions were answered and RIOC discussed some of our potential remediation plans.


This is part of our on-going effort to keep in direct communication with Island residents. Additionally, the DOH statement and the test results were released to several Island bloggers September 4.


Links to the video recording of that meeting can be found here:

Part 1: https://youtu.be/pGBsm18AK1o

Part 2: https://youtu.be/rUsP6T7FBeQ


It’s come to our understanding that several members of the community have additional questions and RIOC is now planning to have a follow-up question-and-answer session with DOH, Wednesday, October 10 at 10:30 at RIOC's Warehouse offices at 680 Main Street on Roosevelt Island. 


RIOC will and has maintained the highest standards to ensure a healthy and safe environment for Roosevelt Island residents and visitors. We will provide another update after the next meeting.


Please contact me, Alonza Robertson, at 212.832.4540 or alonza.robertson@rioc.ny.gov if you have additional questions.


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