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Billings woman frustrated with continued water issues at Meadowlark mobile-home park

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Posted at 6:24 PM, Apr 08, 2022

BILLINGS — Billings resident Brittany Duncan is fed up and frustrated with persistent water issues at her mobile home in the Meadowlark community.

Brown, murky water continues to run from her faucet, sit in her toilet, and stain her appliances.

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Alina Hauter

She and her family are living off bottled water.

“I’ve been trying to, like, find a house or figure out a way to not be here anymore,” Duncan, 32, said.

She and others at Meadowlark have been dealing with murky water for over half a year now. Her water fees are about $30 a month. The sediment from the water has corroded her washing machine.

“I had to replace my washing machine, and then in January, my water heater quit and ultimately it was due to the sediment around the element in the inside,” Duncan said.

And she’s worried about her and her kids’ health.

“’Cuz the worst part is, besides it ruining my clothes and my appliances, and just being dirty is like my skin. It burns my skin,” Duncan said.

Duncan and her two kids have been living in Meadowlark for about three years now, paying $420 per month in fees for the lots where she keeps the trailer she owns. She says the problems didn’t start until last September.

She and others took their concerns to the management office, but months later, the problems persist.

“I went down after trying to give my daughter a bath with a literally hot cup of water and said, 'why isn’t this fixed yet?' And she goes, 'well, have you checked your pipes under your home,'” Duncan said.

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MTN News has also been bringing those concerns to the management office and the state for months.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality told MTN News this week:

“At this time, DEQ does not have any formal complaints. The water system filters have been replaced and the water quality is meeting requirements. The water discoloration is from iron and manganese which are not regulated under DEQ’s authority. Obviously the water discoloration is not ideal, DEQ continues to work with the operator to optimize the system. In the meantime, DEQ suggests running the water for a few minutes until the water runs clear to help eliminate the discoloration.”

However, Duncan isn’t buying it.

“It’s water. Like I know it sounds really crappy, but I live in America. Like, I shouldn’t- I didn’t think this would be the last thing I have to worry about. Especially like I said, I pay for it,” Duncan said.

MTN also continues to reach out to Havenpark Communities, which owns Meadowlark. The company told MTN Friday it's still working to fix the problem.

“Meadowlark is on a well system that is more than 60 years old, and the well system is showing its age. A few weeks ago, on February 10, we were able to replace a key part of the filter which broke. The part was on back-order for several weeks, which was frustrating to everyone. We replaced the part the day it was delivered, and the system had been working well until the last week or so when the improved system started kicking up new sediment in some of the older water tanks. This created new discoloration in some water. We’ve been flushing several of the tanks this week to improve the quality in the short term, and on April 18, the tanks are scheduled to be fully drained and cleaned which should resolve the issue long-term.

"In the interim, we continue to offer free bottled water in bulk to residents who visit our onsite office.

"Finally, it’s important to note that while visually not up to expectations, the water has been tested and proven to be safe. We have been completing onsite testing of the water daily ever since we purchased the park during the summer of 2020. In recent months, we have also been using a company called Curb Box Specialist, a 3rd party certified water operator in the state of Montana as well to verify the safety of the water. Water samples are also sent monthly to Energy Labs to do bacterial testing, and the tests have always come back as safe and are presented to DEQ per requirement.”

Duncan is just ready for the issues to be fixed.

“In the meantime, I’m trying to save up my money so whatever next thing happens, I can handle it, I guess,” Duncan said.

RELATED: Operator of Billings mobile home park says fix coming for brown water