Following a week of confusion over the safety of the water supply at the Jacob Riis public housing complex in the East Village, the mayor’s office announced Saturday that the city has reviewed the final water test and concluded the water at the complex is safe.
“We can confidently say the water at Riis Houses is and has been free of any discernible amount of arsenic since the initial tests were initiated in August and meets EPA standards,” Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement on Saturday.
And to prove that, Adams visited the Riis Houses on Saturday afternoon to drink a glass of water from a sink at one of the sprawling complex’s units.
“Nothing’s better than New York City water,” Adams said before drinking an entire glass of water with Ashwin Vasan, the city health commissioner.
Adams gave the camera a thumbs up after he finished.
“We’re just here to make sure people know I’m drinking it. The water is safe to drink,” he said.
This comes a week after city officials warned tenants not to drink the tap water because of tests that revealed unsafe levels of arsenic. City officials set up water faucets and a water distribution site in a nearby parking lot for the complex’s 3,900 residents last week.
On Wednesday, city officials announced that there was “no discernible amount of arsenic,” but cautioned residents against drinking or cooking with tap water. City officials also revealed that the testing firm provided belated results showing signs of a dangerous bacteria called Legionella in the water.
But on Friday, the company Environmental Monitoring and Technologies Inc. said that its findings were incorrect and retracted “all arsenic results” from earlier tests. The testing method included a test for silver, which “introduced trace levels of arsenic and a dilution factor correction,” the company said in a statement on Friday.
Adams promised that the city will stop testing through the company and “intends to pursue all available legal options on behalf of the residents of Riis Houses” as well as reimburse residents for costs incurred over the last week, according to a statement released on Saturday.
As for the Legionella bacteria reported last week, the mayor said his office suspects the results are inaccurate. He noted that his office has found no reported or confirmed cases of Legionnaires disease at the Jacob Riis Houses over the last year.
“We will continue to be transparent about the information we receive, and have already publicly released all the arsenic reports, both true and what we now know to be false. We will work to get any additional reports on contaminants mentioned yesterday up online as soon as possible,” he continued.