Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) may be sporting a gleaming new headquarters building in lower Manhattan, but not everything there is quite perfect. While the building sports the usual amenities of any high end office building in Manhattan, like a gym, an in-house physician and workers offering shoe shines, there was a problem that has emerged as well in its basic features – tap water.
The building for much of July has had discolored tap water, something familiar to anyone that has lived in New York City. The prolonged discoloration has caused employees to be a bit alarmed and left the building services to adjust in their services as well. Water used for coffee and ice took on a yellowish color early in the month, and theories percolated among the staff as to what might be behind it. The construction at the World Trade Center site down the street? The fact that the building, which opened in October 2009, was still relatively new? Something else entirely? One thing was clear: The water was to be avoided.
An internal memo advised employees to refrain from drinking tap water for the time being, directing any concerns to the facilities management department. On-floor coffee service, the memo said, was unavailable. “Impact to cafe and coffee bar services is being assessed and menus will be adjusted accordingly,” the memo read.
The cafeteria, located on the 11th floor, began serving free coffee, apparently using an alternative water source. Service workers made the rounds, stocking the firm’s pantries with water bottles.
New York City’s department of environment protection says on its Web site that discolored water is simply an “aesthetic problem” of shifting sediment in pipes. According to the city’s recent water quality report, brown water can be caused by “street construction or water main work being done in your area.” The city advises on its site that “discolored water is safe to drink, but residents who are experiencing discolored water coming from the faucet should let the sediment settle before drinking.”
Goldman Sachs, for its part, soon took care of the water issue, and the tap water is now flowing clear. “We took these precautions out of the utmost of caution,” David Wells, a Goldman Sachs spokesman, said in a statement, “but tests of the water showed there wasn’t a problem with the quality.”