Trailer park’s contamination in its 3rd week
When we twist a knob to pour a glass of water, take a shower, wash some dishes, or boil water for dinner, we take something for granted: clean water.
For the past three weeks, however, the luxury of clean tap water is something that has not been available to the tenants of Arbor Glen mobile home park in northern Klamath.
Without warning of any upcoming changes, the roughly 60 park tenants noticed the water pressure fall to a trickle, exhibiting a brown color and a foul smell.
Fred Stockett, the owner of Arbor Glen through a property company, switched Arbor Glen’s water system to an uncertified well without a permit to do so, and the new water system proved to be not safe for human consumption, state officials said.
After receiving several complaints within a week of the switch, the California Department of Public Health and the Del Norte County Health Department required Stockett to send notices to his tenants that the water must be boiled before being used for any task where it might be swallowed.
“You take it for granted that you don’t have to inspect your water and smell it every time you use it,” said Sonny Downs, a park resident, adding every member of his family of four suffered from diarrhea in the first week of the water switch. “Before you feed it to the people, you’re supposed to make sure it’s alright.”
Other tenants have reported similar health problems, according to a Small Claims Court lawsuit filed by two tenants.
Stockett said he didn’t inform the residents because he thought it would be a smooth transition to the well on the property.
On July 5, three different samples tested positive for total coliform, a bacteria that indicates there’s been contamination, state officials said.
The water samples also showed a turbidity test of 43.5 when the state maximum is 5. Turbidity refers to the amount of light that can pass through the water, so 43.5 percent of light was blocked from passing through.
Stockett claims the well is fine, but that a break in a line between the well and the residences caused the problems. He said his company is addressing the problem as quick as it can.
For decades, Arbor Glen was hooked up to the Redwood Park Community Service District, but after disputes over the price and threats of cancellation of water service due to more than $9,000 in unpaid bills, Stockett said he decided to make the switch.
“Redwood water district is charging us three times what they’ve charged everyone else,” Stockett said, adding that the base rate isn’t the same as other Redwood CSD water users.
The chairman of the Redwood Park CSD, Robert Nulph, said that Stockett is charged the same rate, but that his facility often uses enough water to push it into a higher tier with a higher rate. Nulph said he suspects that happens frequently because there are leaks in the line that Stockett is responsible for.
Stockett’s switch to a non-state-certified well without a permit violated state law, according to a notice sent to Stockett from the state Department of Housing and Community Development.
Mobile home parks are not under the jurisdiction of the county, so Del Norte County officials have mostly been forwarding complaints to the state.
Stockett was told by HCD that he must provide bottled water to the tenants until the water issue is resolved.
Stockett said that the most recent water tests show the issue has been resolved.
“I want to know how it’s getting better. That needs to be explained,” said Arbor Glen resident Downs, adding the water looks better but remains discolored.
Stockett would not comment on what he’s specifically done to resolve the issue, saying only that he followed the advice of the state Department of Public Health.
The HCD is expected to check the park for compliance next week.
In the meantime, Arbor Glen residents will have to rely on friends and family for showers and washing clothes, and try to get by, one gallon at a time.