High MHC Water Bill Leads to Legislation

SacBee reports from the unincorporated town of Thermal in California’s Eastern Coachella Valley, residents of the Sunbird Mobile Home Park filed a complaint with the California Public Utilities Commission claiming excessive water bills and arsenic-contaminated water, which resulted in a bill passed by the state legislature allowing residents in such situations to seek restitution. In one instance a retired farm worker had to move because his water bill varied between $14 and $595 a month. Sunbird had a steeply tiered method of charging for water usage, which could be as much as $40 a cubic foot (750 gallons) if water usage exceeded a certain level each month. The owners of Sunbird said the high water bills were caused by leaks in the homes, and they were trying to promote conservation and prevent old septic systems from overflowing. The Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association signed on in support of the legislature’s measure. Said the association’s Catherine Borg, “For the people we represent, we believe that they are people who do the right thing, and if people aren’t doing the right thing, there should be some kind of restitution.” MHProNews learned in July the residents began receiving water from another source, and the Riverside County Environmental Health Dept. asked Sunbird owners to destroy the well because of the contamination.

(Photo credit: Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun–faucet attached to manager’s office at Sunbird for residents to use instead of water in homes.)

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