Is mobile home park’s water safe?

by Kirk Barron, originally posted on July 17, 2016


James Phipps has concerns about the water in the mobile home park where he lives, but he called every agency he could find and became frustrated. Navigating the maze of jurisdictions left him feeling like nobody was taking him seriously.

“We filed complaints, and some of the complaints have been filed for almost two months,” Phipps said. “That’s kind of the way it’s been the whole deal.”

Part of the problem Phipps ran into was determining which agency was the right agency to look into his concerns. The mobile home park where he lives, Peach Mobile Estates, gets its water from the Linda County Water District, but the water district’s jurisdiction ends where the pipes enter private property.

Phipps contacted Yuba County Environmental Health, but that department regulates only small water districts. He tried contacting the State Water Resources Control Board Division of Drinking Water, which regulates larger water districts, including Linda, but the pipes at Peach Mobile Estates are outside its purview.

The proper agency for Phipps’ situation is the state Department of Housing and Community Development, which regulates mobile home parks, and its investigators came to the park on Tuesday to speak to Phipps and begin looking into his concerns.

“We’re not blaming anybody, and we’re not trying to sue anybody; we’re just trying to get clean water,” Phipps said.

He and several other residents of the park said they believe the water is contaminated by sewage and is causing health problems; however, the water samples Phipps took to the Yuba City Wastewater Treatment Plant tested negative for bacteria.

Even with the negative test, Phipps is still concerned because a water filter he installed outside of his home collects so much musty smelling sediment and sludge it gets plugged about once every two weeks, he said.

Peach Mobile Estates manager Nichole Udall said she takes residents’ concerns seriously but said Phipps never filed a formal complaint in writing with her about water quality. Phipps used to do some maintenance work for the mobile home park, but they had a falling out, Udall said.

Only one resident, Jay Thomas, has filed a complaint about the water in the past year. That complaint was addressed immediately, and the resident is happy with the outcome, Udall said.

After that complaint, Udall, who has a newborn child, purchased a water test kit from Home Depot. She sent it off to a lab, and that, too, came back negative.

The mobile home park, which was built in the 1950s, flushes the water lines every other month by running the fire hydrant, she said.

The residents of Peach Mobile Estates own the mobile homes, while the park owns the property and maintains the common areas. In Thomas’ case, the problem was with his pipes and not the park’s, he said.

Thomas said his water issue manifested itself with off-colored water that was due to old pipes inside of the mobile home he recently moved into. The mobile home sat vacant for years before he moved in.

“We took the water in to our doctor, and they said it was fine,” Thomas said. “(To solve the issue), we ran solvents through the lines and flushed the house’s system.”

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