New emergency drinking water order issued to the Oasis Mobile Home Park in Thermal

Taylor Martinez

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a new emergency drinking water order to the Oasis Mobile Home Park in Thermal

The order calls on Oasis to comply with federal drinking water requirements and to identify and correct problems with its drinking water system that present a danger to the residents of the park. 

The mobile home park must provide alternative drinking water, reduce the levels of arsenic in its distribution system and monitor the water for contamination. 

EPA is also requiring Oasis Mobile Home Park to conduct a study to identify a long-term compliance option based around consolidating the current privately operated Oasis system to a local public water system.

“The Oasis residents must have access to safe drinking water,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “Given the latest sampling results, EPA has issued a new order to protect the mobile home park’s residents and ensure they get alternative drinking water until sustained compliance is achieved.”

The Oasis Mobile Home Park’s current drinking water system serves approximately 1,900 residents using groundwater that has naturally occurring arsenic. 

In August 2019, EPA issued the first emergency order to the water system for failure to comply with the regulatory Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for arsenic, which is 10 parts per billion (ppb). 

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

Based on elevated arsenic samples taken by a community group, the system underwent additional sampling under EPA’s oversight at residential homes and water storage tanks during the week of August 24, 2020. The results identified arsenic levels ranging from 78 to 90 ppb. Oasis has also failed to properly maintain and operate its primary drinking water well and is currently using a backup well.

Arsenic, a naturally occurring mineral found throughout the United States, can be found in groundwater. Drinking high levels of arsenic over many years can increase the risk of lung, bladder, and skin cancers, as well as heart disease, diabetes, and neurological damage. Arsenic also inhibits the body’s ability to fight off cancer and other diseases.

The Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians tribe has no direct control or ownership of the water system and has been consulted about the violations.

The new order, issued for failure to properly maintain and operate its primary drinking water well and distribution system, requires Oasis Mobile Home Park and its owner to: 

  • Provide at least one gallon of drinking water per person per day at no cost for every individual served by the system.
  • Hire an outside consultant to assess the arsenic treatment and distribution systems.  
  • Submit a compliance plan for approval.
  • Identify long-term compliance options for the system.
  • Increase sampling and reporting of arsenic and iron levels throughout the distribution system. 

Failure to comply with the EPA’s order could result in penalties levied against the Oasis Mobile Home Park of up to $23,963 per day. 

This information is from The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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