Discolored Water on Manhattan's East Side Disgusts Residents

The city insists the water is safe, but people can't get over the color

By Andrew Siff
|  Saturday, Oct 5, 2013  |  Updated 11:52 AM EDT
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Residents on Manhattan's East Side are staying far away from their tap water after it started flowing with an unusual color, despite the city's insistence the water is safe. Andrew Siff reports.

Residents on Manhattan's East Side are staying far away from their tap water after it started flowing with an unusual color, despite the city's insistence the water is safe. Andrew Siff reports.

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Residents on Manhattan's East Side are staying far away from their tap water after it started flowing with an unusual color, despite the city's insistence the water is safe.

On Thursday, residents and businesses began noticing brown water from their sinks and taps. Nearly a dozen hydrants in the area were also unlocked and gushing discolored water.

The city's Department of Environmental Protection said the discoloration happened when construction of new water mains forced them to reverse flow, stirring up sediment.  

The DEP said the brown in the water is from iron and is "perfectly safe."

"Aesthetically, it's not pleasing," the DEP said. "People should not worry." 

Residents were not convinced. 

"Doesn't look so wonderful. I don't think I would drink this," said Judy Lambert, who lives on Second Avenue. 

"It's clearly disgusting," said first-grader Jacob Meltzer.

The discolored water is also stirring up trouble for local businesses like Financier Cafe. Manager Jonathan Melendez says there's a "certain ick factor" associated with brown water.

"Even though you may tell them it's safe to drink, they're not going to drink it themselves because it doesn't look like clean water," he said.

The bagel place next store couldn't make bagels or coffee for hours until the water cleared up. Coffee seller George Thomas used bottled water to make coffee.

Good news for residents, though: the city said Friday night the water is expected to clear up very soon. 

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