U.S. EPA issues new emergency order on drinking water safety to Oasis Mobile Home Park
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a new emergency drinking water order to the Oasis Mobile Home Park, located on the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians Reservation in California. This order requires the current management of Oasis, as well as the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) land allotment trustees, to comply with federal drinking water requirements by correcting ongoing problems with Oasis’ drinking water system that endanger residents. Oasis management must provide alternative drinking water to residents, reduce the levels of arsenic in the Oasis drinking water distribution system, and monitor the water for contamination.
The Oasis Mobile Home Park’s current drinking water system serves approximately 1,100 residents using groundwater that has naturally occurring arsenic. This will be the third order EPA has issued to Oasis for failing to properly maintain and operate its primary drinking water wells and treatment and distribution systems. In August 2019, EPA issued an emergency order for failure to comply with the regulatory Maximum Contaminant Level for arsenic, which is 10 parts per billion. In September 2020, EPA issued a second emergency order for failure to comply with the arsenic MCL after Oasis switched to a backup well that provided treated water with high arsenic levels. The second order also pertained to technical concerns of arsenic contamination throughout Oasis’ distribution system, including residential homes. Both 2019 and 2020 orders were issued to the park owner, Scott Lawson, Sr. After Lawson’s death in May 2021, Lawson’s heirs took over Oasis’ operations.
“EPA is committed to ensuring access to clean water at Oasis Mobile Home Park,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Director Amy Miller. “This new order ensures that current operators and owners continue to provide alternative water to residents and take action to bring the system into compliance.”
Arsenic, a naturally occurring mineral found throughout the United States, can be found in groundwater. It is a known carcinogen and drinking high levels over many years can increase the chance of lung, bladder, and skin cancers, as well as heart disease, diabetes, and neurological damage.
This new order requires Oasis Mobile Home Park owners and operators to:
- Provide at least one gallon of drinking water per person per day at no direct or indirect cost for every individual served by the system.
- Hire a certified water operator to evaluate the distribution system on-site no less than 7 days a week.
- Retain a technical provider to provide an assessment of the current operations of the arsenic treatment and water distribution systems.
- Submit a sampling plan to verify the efficacy of any measures put in place to control arsenic.
- Submit a flushing plan to intermittently flush sitting water from the entire system.
- Submit a corrective action plan that analyzes and provides corrective actions to treat excessive levels of arsenic within the system.
- Provide communication in both English and Spanish to residents about any effects or impacts the actions required by the order will have upon residents.
The Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Tribe has no direct control or ownership of the water system and has been consulted about the violations.
For more information, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/sdwa.