High Arsenic Levels in Water Prompts EPA Emergency Order to Thermal Mobile Home Park

High Arsenic Levels in Water Prompts EPA Emergency Order to Thermal Mobile Home Park

Max Rodriguez

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issues an emergency order to the Oasis Mobile Home Park in Thermal over high levels of arsenic in the water.

The Silva family is used to filling jugs of water each day in case the water stops running, the couple said it happens at least once a week in the two-years they have lived there.

Angeles Silva said, “It stops for almost 12 hours, and it comes out dirty once it starts running.”

The EPA said the tests have resulted in higher levels of arsenic than the federal threshold of 10 parts per billion, this year the sampling results ranged from 16-to-97 parts per billion.

The Oasis Mobile Home Park sits within the Torres Martinez reservation, but the tribe is not the owner of the mobile home park. The tribe’s Vice Chairperson, Joseph Mirelez, said they are working closely with the park owner, Scott Lawson, in order to meet the EPA emergency orders.

“The groundwater already has high arsenic levels in the Eastern Coachella Valley, so they already were made aware of that,” Mirelez said. “And since the filtration system went down, there was a higher concern because it came out high in the past.”

He said the filtration system was not functioning properly earlier this year but they are working on fixing the issue, the order also calls for the owner to provide a gallon of water per person each day.

Mirelez said, “I know he is working on that right now and he is going to continue to provide them drinking water until he gets his well situation fixed, we may not have direct jurisdiction over it but they are still people within the reservation so we do want to make sure they have safe drinking water.”

The mandate from the EPA also requires:

· Provide at least one gallon of drinking water per person per day for every individual served by the system.
· Increase sampling and reporting of arsenic levels.
· Provide a technical review of the arsenic treatment system to analyze the cause of the violations and identify how to correct it.
· Develop standard operating procedures to ensure proper operation of the arsenic treatment system.
· Provide verification that the system has a certified water operator.

The Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz said he will keep tabs on the situation.

“I am alarmed to learn that the EPA is issuing an emergency order to reduce arsenic levels in the drinking water for residents of the Oasis Mobile Home Park,” said Dr. Ruiz. “My top priority is the health and well-being of residents in my district, and I will continue to monitor the situation closely and work with local, state, tribal, and federal officials to ensure Oasis Park residents have access to safe drinking water.”

Failure to comply with the emergency order will result in penalties of up to $23,963 per day.