Drinking Water Complaints in Queens 2014-2018

Growing up in New York City, I remember teachers talking about how good the water quality was in New York City. I had no real concept of why this was important or why the adults around me seem so excited about it. I thought that clean water was an expectation. It was something that the government is supposed to provide. Today as I look around the world at the many places that don’t have clean drinking water, both abroad and at home, I have a better understanding of what the adults then were talking about. Many in this country are still fighting for the right to clean drinking water: activists in Flint Michigan, indigenous people in South Dakota, and teachers documenting the lack of access to drinking in New York City public schools.

Using the 311 data I set out to analyze which Queens neighborhoods had the most complaints about drinking water between 2014 and 2018. I also wanted to know if drinking water complaints were increasing or decreasing over time. I was interested in researching neighborhood specific records for a few reasons. This data visualization could be useful for community board members, local politicians, parents and families, people looking to move to Queens, public health services agencies in NYC, and people already living in Queens. I felt the best way to illuminate any possible issues would be through specificity. If for example, I am someone currently living in Queens who wants to move to a different part of Queens, it would be more beneficial to know statistics for the new neighborhood I’m looking at than to know the statistics for Queens as a borough. Queens was the easiest borough to show by neighborhood because each neighborhood is label as its own city in the 311 data. 

I have created several visualizations. The first is a bar graph showing the number of complaints each neighborhood made over a four-year period 2014 through 2018. I felt a bar graph was the best way to show comparison between neighborhoods. In the first visualization, I removed any of the neighborhoods that had two incidents of contaminated water or less. I felt that two occurrences over four years did not show a possible chronic issue. This also allowed me to show all the neighborhoods at once with no scrolling.

The second visualization shows the number of complaints made each year by each neighborhood.

The third visualization shows the trend of complaints about drinking water over time. For this visualization I used a line graph make a timeline showing changes in the number of complaints each year from 2014-2018. It shows that overall the amount of drinking water complaints spiked in 2016 and have been declining since.

The last visualization shows the trend in drinking water complaints by month. This line graph shows the total number of complaints made each month during the 4 year time frame. June has the highest number of complaints. Maybe that is due to construction starting up in the summer months.

Looking to the future of this project I’d be interested to see if there was any relation between drinking water complaints and median income, or neighborhood demographics.  I noticed that Flushing and Jamaica Queens have the highest instances of illness due to drinking water. Flushing has a large Asian immigrant population. I wonder if that has any effect on my findings. The complaints do not give much con. Maybe there were factors happening in the community like a broken pipe or construction that contributed to the complaints. There is no way to know that information based on my current data.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *