September 19, 2022
EPA orders two Coachella Valley mobile home parks to provide safe drinking water
SAN FRANCISCO – On Wednesday, September 14, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued Emergency Administrative Orders under the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act to two mobile home parks located in the Eastern Coachella Valley on the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians Tribe’s Reservation in California. EPA discovered that the mobile home parks are serving residents drinking water with naturally occurring, elevated levels of arsenic that exceed federal standards.
The Gamez Mobile Home Park and Desert Rose Mobile Home Park serve predominantly agricultural workers. The EPA emergency orders require the parks to provide safe alternative drinking water to residents, install treatment for arsenic, and comply with all federal regulatory requirements for water systems. These actions are part of an EPA effort to ensure small drinking water systems in Eastern Coachella Valley comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act. EPA previously issued two emergency orders concerning elevated levels of arsenic to Oasis Mobile Home Park and seven other nearby parks.
“EPA is wholeheartedly committed to ensuring that everyone, including those in communities that have historically faced inequity of environmental protection, has safe water to drink,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “We will continue to fully utilize our EPA toolset to make sure that safe drinking water standards are met.”
The two water systems at the Gamez and Desert Rose mobile home parks were found to have elevated arsenic levels above the Maximum Contaminant Level for arsenic, which is 10 parts per billion. Exposure to arsenic may result in both acute and chronic health effects. Arsenic is a known carcinogen and drinking high levels of water containing arsenic over many years can increase the chance of lung, bladder, and skin cancers, as well as heart disease, diabetes, and neurological damage.
From the time the emergency orders were issued, the owners of the mobile home parks had 24 hours to begin providing all persons served by the parks’ water systems with at least one gallon of an alternative source of water, such as bottled water or another source of safe drinking water, per day. The orders require the alternative source of water to be provided at no direct cost to the residents, including as rent increases or fees.
Within 14 days of the effective date of the emergency orders, owners are required to develop and submit to EPA for approval an Alternative Water Source Plan. The owners also must develop a compliance plan for the water systems that complies with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and inform residents of the mobile home parks how to obtain the safe alternative water they are required to provide.
Failure to comply with the EPA orders could result in penalties levied against each mobile home park of up to $26,209 per day.
The Torres Martinez Tribe has no direct control or ownership of the water systems. EPA works closely with the Torres Martinez Tribe and has consulted their leadership about the violations.
Learn more about the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Learn how EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, together with states, tribes, and many other partners, protects public health by ensuring safe drinking water and protecting ground water. EPA oversees implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act.
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