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Victory Field, also part of Forest Park, had a drinking fountain pumping water containing lead levels of 71.70 parts per billion.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Twenty of the roughly 450 NYC Parks Department drinking fountains that have been tested so far are pumping out water with staggeringly high levels of lead—and 19 of them are in Queens green spaces, according to a recently published report and data provided by the City.
Earlier this month, as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s LeadFreeNYC plan, a Parks Department consultant began testing the 3,500+ outdoor drinking fountains for lead. If the fountain shows elevated lead levels above the federal threshold of 15 parts per billion, the administration pledged to close the fountain until it has been remediated.
If early returns are any indication of future action, the City should prepare to shutter a lot of drinking fountains in Queens parks. A Gothamist/WNYC analysis of the City’s data found that, out of the 448 fountains checked thus far, 20 fountains (4.5 percent) tested above the federal standard.
The worst of the ignominious inventory is Orchard Beach Pavilion in Pelham Bay Park in The Bronx, with 760 ppb—which, as Gothamist/WNYC noted, is 50 times as much lead in it as permitted by federal regulations.
However, the rest of the names on the Tainted 20 are recreational areas that call Queens home. And four of the 19 are located in Forest Park: Dry Harbor Playground (296 ppb); Oakridge (149); Victory Field (71.70); and Seuffert Bandshell (33.30).
The Parks Department noted that as the consultant prepares their test, you may see plastic bags on your local fountain and stickers indicating their status.
According to the agency, “Our goal is to return our fountains to full service as soon as possible.” Testing will be completed by mid-June and remediation will continue through the summer.
The City has declared NYC’s drinking water safe.
“Our Department of Environmental Protection conducts more than 600,000 tests of our city’s water each year to ensure that it meets or exceeds all State and federal health standards for lead in drinking water,” officials wrote on the Parks Department’s website. “Our pools and spray showers are safe to use. Our water fountains are safe to drink from, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. They are not a known source of childhood lead exposure. It is good practice to let the water run for 30 seconds before drinking.”
For more information and to track the progress of the drinking fountain testing, visit nycgovparks.org/about/health-and-safety-guide/lead.