BILLINGS - A state judge is taking action against the owners of the Meadowlark mobile home park in Billings after residents have had brown water pouring from their faucets for more than a year.
Yellowstone County District Judge Jessica Fehr granted an injunction Tuesday that bars the owners from shutting off water or retaliating against residents for speaking out about the water quality.
People living at Meadowlark say that the park's owner, Havenpark, is bringing in city water to put into the tanks. While some residents now have cleaner water, others have broken pipes and have gone as long as nine days without water.
"It's extremely stressful because I can't send my children to school dirty. They have to have showers and clean clothing," one Meadowlark resident said. "They have to eat properly. And you just don't realize how bad it is until you don't have it."
This woman did not want to speak with MTN News on camera, fearing retaliation from the park. Fehr's order addresses this concern, prohibiting Meadowlark from engaging in retaliatory conduct such as raising rent and requiring management provide clean water to residents, even if that means hauling water in on trucks.
And the order also stipulates the park must repair all broken water lines within six hours of a break.
"In the last two weeks, we've had probably eight to 10 water lines that have broken out here," said Gary Deveraux, a Meadowlark resident.
Related: Billings mobile home residents still have dirty tap water
Related: Taps dry for 24 hours: Water outage latest frustration for Meadowlark mobile home park residents
Havenpark told MTN News that it has responded and has fixed three pipe breaks in the last 10 days.
A spokesman for the Utah-based company also says late night and overnight breaks were repaired by mid-morning.
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality and Meadowlark residents say a boil order issued almost two weeks ago was lifted Tuesday afternoon.
Residents are hopeful it will bring changes, and they say pleas to the park have gone unanswered.
"I know there's a lot of people upset so I don't want to bug them too much, but you know, this is an issue," said another park resident, who asked to remain anonymous.
"There's a lot of stress," Deveraus said. "There's a lot of upset people out here. The whole park. Everybody's mad. There's 800 of us."
Deveraux has been among those talking with newly elected state Rep. Mike Yakawich of Billings, a former city councilman who says he is trying to help.
"We could maybe pass an ordinance in the city or ultimately go to the state to pass some kind of bill," Yakawich said.
Yakawich cautions against overpromising and says this all may take time.
He wants talk with residents, along with Havenpark and government agencies.