At least a dozen homes in Brighton Beach have been without water for 35 days after a waterline broke underneath a neighboring property — and the owner has refused to let anyone come and fix it.
“What people are going through are absolutely ridiculous,” said Razwan Mirza, a bungalow owner on Brighton Third Place between Ocean View Avenue and Brighton Third Street, who has been without water for over a month.
The Department of Environmental Protection turned off the water to the bungalow-lined alleyway on Sept. 16 after one house reported a leak, according to Mirza. Neighbors pitched in to fund the $7,000 repair tab to that pipe, but soon discovered a leak stemming from a waterline that ran beneath another house — and the owner has since blocked plumbers from entering their backyard to repair the rupture, according to a neighbor.
“They’re not granting us access,” said Audrey Gartner, another bungalow owner.
Locals suspect that the resistant homeowners are hooked up to a different waterline — meaning they still have running water — and that they may be resisting the investigation because they have unauthorized water pipes that they don’t want city officials to find.
“I think it’s an illegal hookup,” Gartner said.
The uncooperative homeowners did not respond to a request for comment.
Residents suffering through the drought have also turned to the city seeking relief, saying its outrageous for officials to allow one obstinate homeowner to deprive them of one of life’s essential ingredients.
“DEP should responsible for this. This line has been there for 100 years,” Mirza said.
But a DEP spokesman claimed that the agency isn’t responsible for the repair because the leak is on a private line that all the bungalows’ owners collectively own, meaning that they’re responsible for making the fix.
Now, homeowners are making do by buying packs of bottled water every day or filling up garbage cans with water from nearby hydrants, Mirza said. One homeowner and her parents, brothers, and his family, were forced to move from their two-family house in Brighton Beach to her other brother’s apartment.
“We literally cried,” said Salina Bhuiyan. “I can’t take it anymore.”
She added that the price of the fixes are beyond her budget — and the budget of many of the bungalows’ low-income, immigrant residents.
“I’m under so much debt already,” she said.