LANSINGBURGH, N.Y. (NEWS10) – For ten days now, two families have been without water and they’re calling on the city to fix the problem.
Eric Daus showed NEWS10 what happened when turns on his kitchen faucet — nothing.
“It’s hard,” he said. “It’s just taking trips back and forth; neighbors; trying to brush your teeth out of a cup; heating up water on the stove.”
His mother, who declined to go on camera, is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. Daus and his neighbor, Brian McIntyre, say enough is enough.
“I need the water here, and I need it fixed,” McIntyre said. “I know people are willing to help, and they are. Except for the city of Troy, and that’s what I don’t understand.”
McIntyre lives on Fourth Street with his wife and three young children. They have also been without water for ten days.
“My daughter asked me, told me she’d wait to go to school to go to the bathroom simply because she hadn’t made a water run, yet, and that’s the sort of thinking that they’re into now,” he said.
Daus and McIntyre tested the water line to their home and say the problem is beyond their property. It’s a frozen line that’s in the street.
“We’re always told from the box or the curb line back to the house is our responsibility,” Daus said. “Anything in the street is theirs. Well, they know it. I proved it to them, and I’ve had other workers down here. They know it. And they still haven’t done nothing.”
The city said it’s not responsible for that – only the water main break. Daus said he hasn’t been able to speak with the mayor, Lou Rosamilia, but has some words for him.
“They should just do the right thing. Do the right thing,” he said. “They were always responsible for the curb is what me and everyone else was told for years. From the curb out is their responsibility.”
Mayor Rosamilia said at an afternoon press conference that he received 60 calls for frozen pipes. Four or five of them remain without water. He admits it’s the city’s line, and the frozen pipe is the part that goes from the main to the curb. But his response is that it is still the homeowners’ responsibility.
“It is the determination of our city’s attorney that it is not the city’s legal obligation to pay for water lines to be thawed out,” he said.
Rosamilia said doing so would be gifting tax payer money to residents for the fix.
“Is there money in the budget for that?” he posed. “No.”
“We don’t have the equipment to do it,” Superintendent of Public Utilities Chris Wheland said. “And we don’t’ have the control over the weather that would make it freeze or the water usage that would keep it from freezing.”
The city attorney admits the law could be interpreted either way.
In the meantime, the community has stepped up. Local plumbing companies have volunteered their services free of charge, and even Albany County sheriff’s deputies delivered bottles of water.
Wheland said it could cost between $500-$1,000 to thaw the pipes. But at a city council meeting on Thursday, seven out of nine council members passed a resolution in support of the city taking on the work and financial burden to thaw the pipes.
“Thaw those pipes; return the water to the citizens of Troy,” Councilman Jim Gordon said.
“And just because it’s the human thing to do,” Councilwoman Anastasia Robertson said. “We should always find ways to help each other out.”
Councilwoman Lynnn Kopka voted down the resolution because she said there is no funding source and not enough information.
“I do not have a clear understanding what our rights and responsibilities are,” she said.
After the vote, the mayor said he was willing to change the legal requirements, but he said it likely won’t be done in time to help people this year.
“I am definitely open to changing the rules and regulations,” he said. “I think we need to sit down and reconstruct the legislation; the rules and regulations that are necessary.”
But that answer still wasn’t good enough for some council members.
“Need a solution, and they need it now,” Gordon said.
“I, too, am sorely disappointed in how this is being handled,” Robertson said.
The resolution, however, is not binding meaning the mayor does not have to act.