Eastern Queens Elected Officials and Civic Groups Demand Answers about 188th Street Water Leaks

Queens, New York – At a press conference on Sunday, Assemblymembers David I. Weprin & Nily Rozic, and Councilmembers Barry S. Grodenchik & Costa Constantinides stood with the West Cunningham Park Civic Association, the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association, and concerned residents at the intersection of 188th Street and 81st Avenue to press for the remediation of the damages caused by Verizon on 188th Street.

At least 32 private water service lines along the east side of 188th Street between 73rd Avenue and the Grand

Central Parkway have failed, apparently because of stray voltage beneath the street, since 2017. Some homes have had their service lines fail more than once in this short period. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which oversees New York City’s water system, has informed the residents that repairing or replacing the affected pipes is the responsibility of the home owners, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in costs for local residents. At this time, the DEP has indicated that Verizon is likely the responsible party.

Since 2017, the DEP has been utilizing the services of an independent consultant, Corr-Tech, to identify the source of the leaks. In a 2018 report, the consultant stated that the leaks were not caused by city infrastructure but rather by stray voltage from a private utility. Specifically, the report indicated that Verizon infrastructure was the probable cause of the water line failures. Since then, the New York State Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities statewide, has requested additional testing from Verizon and DEP, in a letter to the company’s general counsel, has called for a concrete course of action.

All the elected officials involved strongly urged Verizon to responsibly address this matter in a timely manner for both the safety of the community and the financial wellbeing of the residents. Weprin is also introducing legislation in Albany that would mandate that homeowners be reimbursed the full cost of any repairs that are the result damages from a third party.

It is unfair to our neighbors to be burdened by damages and costs that are no fault of their own but the fault of a multibillion dollar corporation. said Assemblyman David Weprin. I call upon Verizon not only to take action and fix the stray voltage issue but also to provide restitution to the homeowners who were forced to pay out of pocket for damages they caused.

"Fresh Meadows residents affected by the 188th Street water leaks have suffered damages, financial loss, and unacceptable conditions for years. They deserve answers," said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic. "I strongly urge the

City and Verizon to take responsibility and necessary action to finally resolve this nightmare scenario facing localhomeowners."

"Two corroded pipes on the same street would be a bad coincidence; three would be quite unusual. Over thirty on one street means that underground equipment is causing serious problems. Homeowners should not be on the hook for thousands of dollars in damages they did not cause. The residents of 188th Street have been plagued by corroded pipes and resulting water leaks for far too long. Now that it has been shown that Verizon's infrastructure is responsible, that company must act," said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik.

“Asking the residents of Fresh Meadows to pay for Verizon’s mistakes is like jailing a cashier for getting robbed,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection. “Verizon must take responsibility for the stray voltages that disrupted water lines serving homes along 188th Street. I want to thank Assembly Members Weprin and Rozic and Council Member Grodenchik for their partnership.”