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Water Department Seeks Answer to 21-Year Problem

GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Patty McGuire Leavy opened her faucet and saw brown water hitting the sink basin. After 21 years of the same problem, she knew that the clothes in the washing machine would be ruined and that the shower walls would soon be splashed with grime.

"It's become an incredibly awful experience for me," said Leavy, a Hartsdale resident, whose water turns to brown sludge three or four times per year. "I get rocks and mud. It's pretty bad. I have to remove every screen from every faucet and the shower heads."

Last week, Leavy opened her water bill to see a 72 percent increase over the past few years. While the brown water usually only lasts for one day before returning clean, at the very tail-end of November, it lasted three days.

While Leavy often contacts the water department about the "costly inconvenience," nobody has been able to tell her the root of the problem. Her neighbors on College Corners experience similar murky water, but none as bad as Leavy. She was placed on a maintenance schedule, however, it did not cure the problem. The water department also told her to simply run her water until it turns clean, but that only raises her water bill.

New water department head John Devany is looking to put her on another temporary flushing program that might help. In addition, his department is checking to see if there is a history of low water use in that area that could be affecting Leavy's pipes. They will also talk to the fire district to find out if their water use is interfering with Leavy's.

"I'm looking into it," said Devany, who was hired five months ago. "We did go out there and revisit it a couple weeks ago."

While Devany could not offer an immediate solution, he is organizing a town flushing program that will take place in the spring of 2012. The water department, he said, has not done it for several years. The flushing program will cause residents' water to turn brown for a short period of time. Devany hopes to implement an annual flushing program that will improve the town's water quality.

Devany said that he is intent on finding the solution to Leavy's problem. The two will meet in January to further discuss the details. Leavy, after over two decades of the problem, is skeptical that a solution will be found, but she said that she is pleased with Devany's progress and looks forward to working with him towards finding an answer.

"I hope [to find a solution], I will try," Devany said. "We are going to be doing an evaluation of the whole town of Greenburgh. Due to budget restraints, I'm not sure where it's going. That's one thing we're definitely looking into."

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