I am here today to testify in support of legislation introduced at Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.’s behest, Intro 1056, by Council Members Constantinides, Levine, Torres, Diaz, Ampry-Samuel and Ayala.
This important legislation will require the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to conduct periodic surprise inspections of water tanks, publicly post the results of those inspections and conduct audits of annual inspection reports. The goal of this legislation is to prevent against many contaminants that can make New Yorkers ill, including but not limited to the Legionella bacteria.
Clean water is crucial to good health, and it is not something we can take for granted in the developed world -even in New York City – without adequate regulation. We have seen time and time again the health crises in this country from unsafe drinking water that have ensued from governmental inaction or malfeasance, the most notable example being the ongoing crisis in Flint, Michigan.
I recognize how important it is that New Yorkers have clean, safe water, and this legislation helps ensure that. I have been a champion of safe water and safe water-based-systems dating back to the legionella crisis in the summer of 2015 when it became all too apparent that the system was not working, and needed to be changed.
Today, we are proud to continue to deliver for the city on this important issue through partnership with our colleagues in the New York City Council.
Water tanks are used in more than 10,000 New York City buildings that are typically taller than six stories, according to official estimates. In recent years, landlords have been required to submit annual inspections to DOHMH that the structures are free of sediments, bacteria, or other harmful substances. Fewer than half did so between 2015 and 2017, the year the requirement became an official law, according to a May expose in City & State magazine.
The existing law also allows the inspection to be done immediately after the tank is cleaned, meaning the City does not have a clear picture of how many dead pigeons, rats or cockroaches are floating in the water on any given day.
There is a clear need for further smart regulation, and this bill is just that. I urge The Council to pass this legislation into law.