Arsenic Found in Water at Thermal Mobile Home Park
Photo: Video by kmir6.com
THERMAL - You can't see the arsenic, but the federal government says it's in the water at D&D Oasis Mobile Home Park. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found arsenic levels nearly six times higher than the maximum levels allowed at the property, which falls under the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian Reservation.
The highly toxic chemical is tasteless and odorless and enters water from natural deposits in the earth or from agricultural and industrial practices.
"We don't drink the water from the trailer park because we know it's contaminated," explains a resident of the park, Armando Garcia, in perfect Spanish.
He has lived in his mobile home seven years with his family, and during that time, he remembers receiving flyers from the owners about the water contamination. Like many of D&D's 300 residents, Garcia stocks up on bottled water because drinking from the sink isn't an option.
"We pay monthly for this service, and I think it would be fair if they paid attention to one of our basic necessities in life, which is water," says Garcia.
Consuming high levels of arsenic could lead to serious medical complications such as cancer, but according to one of the park's owners, Richard Dominguez, he has never received any complaints about anyone getting sick from the water. He adds he tests the water for arsenic every three months and the levels usually fluctuate.
Dominguez, among most of his tenants, have a theory about where the arsenic is coming from.
"I think that the contamination we have in the water here is because of the excessive use of chemicals by the ranchers in the fields," shares Garcia, pointing at the nearby date farms, "All the pesticides, which have arsenic, go underground and that's how they get in the water."
EPA has ordered the owners of D&D to submit a written plan for bringing the water system into compliance by December 2013. The penalty for not complying can be up to $37,500 per day.
Dominguez says they're working on installing water filters for the entire trailer park by October, which would cost about $300,000.
"The problem lies in the pesticides that are sprayed around us, not in the park," expresses Dominguez, "Twenty years ago arsenic wasn't used in the fields. The government is to blame for the contaminations because it's allowing this chemical use."
For more information on the arsenic levels allowed in California, visit the California Department of Public Health website: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/certlic/drinkingwater/Pages/Arsenic.aspx
For more information on arsenic in drinking water, visit the Environmental Protection Agency website: http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/rulesregs/sdwa/arsenic/index.cfm