At the Oasis Mobile Home Park on Torres Martinez tribal land, 1,900 residents are crammed into 220 trailers. The EPA has found arsenic in wells.
The Desert Sun
“Cuando van a ser prioridad los problemas del agua en Oasis?” “When are the water problems in Oasis going to be a priority?”
In the midst of a global pandemic, extreme heat waves, and rolling power outages, residents of Oasis Mobile Home Park (the park sits on 70th Avenue, between Pierce and Fillmore) continue to deal with arsenic-contaminated water. A little more than a year ago, the U.S. EPA issued an Emergency Administrative Order (EAO) declaring the Oasis water system in excess of the 10 ppb maximum contaminant level for arsenic, noting arsenic levels as high as 97 ppb.
While the EAO required the system owner to provide alternative water for residents while the arsenic issues were remediated, the owner did not always do so, often leaving them without an alternative source of water for days. After months of advocacy by Oasis residents, local partners began to offer their support and additional alternative water was eventually made available.
This would go on for nine months until the EAO was removed, May 29, after data from the water system no longer detected high arsenic levels. Residents quickly rebuked this decision as they still feared their water was contaminated. Following continued reports from residents of discolored water, hair loss, and strange rashes, we began our own independent investigation into water quality in the park.
In partnership with Loma Linda University professor Dr. Ryan Sinclair, we now have results that show that arsenic levels have continued to spike, with results showing levels of arsenic eight times higher than the maximum contaminant levels. Oasis residents are no closer to having safe water and while the arsenic issue is one of the most pressing concerns in the community, it certainly isn’t the only one. Sewer spills, water shut-offs, rolling power outages, high energy bills, and deteriorating housing conditions are among the many issues residents deal with daily.
“Esto nos puede llevar a tener problemas de salud” (“This could lead to health problems”), residents tell us.
In addition to health risks related to not having clean water to protect oneself from COVID-19, residents fear the short and long-term impacts living with contaminated water will have on them and their families. Residents have consistently brought up issues of hair loss, skin rashes and even eye irritation.
Disputes over who has regulatory oversight of this community has left them in limbo for years and with no solutions for the spectrum of issues related…