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Billings mobile home residents still have dirty tap water

Posted at 11:17 PM, Sep 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-20 08:18:39-04

BILLINGS - Residents at the Meadowlark Mobile Home Park near the Billings landfill continue to be told their water is safe.

They've now been dealing with water like this for more than two years and some say in things have gotten worse.

The water can come out nearly black on some days.

It's not every day and sometimes it does clear, but residents remain concerned after being told the water contains no harmful bacteria.

"It's not edible," said Gary Devereaux who lives at Meadowlark. "It's not good for you. It's not healthy. And you can look at it and see and I don't even let my dogs drink it."

Devereaux said the water has been coming out dirty for about two years now.

"It's been back and forth like you've seen it," he said. "It was tea color and it started coming out a lot darker. And sometimes it's like mud."

When it's not like mud, he still drinks bottled water.

Havenpark Communities, which owns Meadowlark, says it has checked filters, flushed valves and cleaned the water lines and tanks.

The park has its own private well and it's not on city water.

A Havenpark spokesman says the company cannot find the problem and will now bring an out-of-state company to find a solution.

"Meadowlark is on a well system that is more than 60 years old, and the well system is showing its age," Havenpark spokesman Josh Weiss wrote in an email response. "Havenpark completely understands the concern of residents and has been doing all we can to repair the filtration and sediment issues. It’s important to note that while visually not up to expectations, the water has been tested and proven to be safe."

And residents say the Department of Environmental Quality hasn't been able to help either.

"We do our normal compliance every month and every month, they are satisfactorily meeting the requirement," said Lisa Kaufman, Montana DEQ field services section supervisor in the public water supply bureau.

Kaufman says the DEQ tests for bacteria and not sediment such as sand, iron and manganese often found in well water, which she says can look bad, but is not harmful.

"Things that cause taste and odor and aesthetic quality issues do not have health effects, which is why they aren't regulated," Kaufman said.

But Devereaux says he gets rashes and burns when he showers.

"Letting everybody out here suffer for as long as they have and ruin our clothes, you know come down with illnesses and everything else they need. They need to be held accountable for it."

Devereaux residents created a Meadowlark community info and concerns Facebook page.