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As well goes dry, residents of Bend mobile home park struggle without steady water supply

(Update: Adding video, comments from mobile home park residents; statement from park to residents)

Periodic outages make it difficult for residents to do daily tasks

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – While dry wells have been a concern for some time across Central Oregon, it's certainly hitting one Bend mobile home park harder than many these days.

Residents of the Juniper Hilltop Mobile Park on the north end of Bend said they are scrambling for water supplies in recent days, after the water pump went out of commission a week ago.

"Our water was kind of at a point where it was too low for the pump to pick up continuously, so it was actually cavitating, and it caused our pump to burn up," resident Chris Monroe explained Thursday.

The 760-foot-deep well the community has relied on for the past seven years has supplied water to the 49 homes in the area.

Now, as a long-term solution, management said they must dig a new, deeper well and replace the pump.

As a temporary step, they're bringing in a water truck daily to fill the pipes. But it hasn’t been enough, as it runs out quickly, and residents said they are going without water for hours.

"They're trucking in anywhere from 7,000 to 10,000 gallons a day," Monroe said.

Monroe stressed that conservation has been a major struggle. As his neighbors are trying to keep up with demand, Monroe said they're not taking enough steps to use the water sparingly.

Giovanni Trujillo lives in a family of four and says his biggest concern is their health.

"Well, with the whole COVID thing going on -- we say like wash our hands and everything, and all the hygiene stuff," Trujillo said. "It’s kind of difficult.”

He said it's a challenge for people to do everyday tasks, because the water schedule isn't consistent.

"Sometimes it turns on and sometimes it’s off. It’s kind of, like, random," Trujillo said.

In the mornings, around 8 a.m., Trujillo said there's typically water, but by the time he comes home after work, around 2:30 p.m., there isn't any.

“For example, yesterday, when we had an early (schools) release, normally we would have water until say, 2 or 3, if we’re doing well. Yesterday, we were out of water at 12:15," Monroe said.

He said it affects most facets of life, but the most troublesome part for him is the laundry. Although, in his case, he said he's fortunate to use facilities of friends and family to get that done.

"We are not the only ones in this predicament," Monroe said. :The water tables that we're dealing with, our aquifers -- the water level has dropped because there's been less than a sufficient amount of snowpack for the last four years."

The reality for Trujillo, as with the many other residents, is to collect and store buckets and bottles of water for bathing, washing dishes, drinking and more. His family plans to use laundry services in downtown Bend.

Trujillo said the costs are starting to add up. His family has already spent nearly $60 on water to meet their needs.

Another resident called the situation a health crisis, because once the water gets shut off at night, the pressure backflows into the cistern, which can contaminate the water. So far, there has been no notice to boil the water.

But going to the bathroom, especially for families with children, is a whole different ordeal.

One family with a young child that wanted to remain anonymous shared their frustration.

“These kids don’t have a schedule like we do, they do things on their time," the resident said. "If they have accidents, it’s important to be able to turn on the water. That’s a big problem."

Without knowing when the water is going to disappear, Monroe said he and his family follow a system.

“Yellow, let it mellow. Brown, flush it down," Monroe said.

The community has a sizable Latino community, and the Latino Community Association is currently collecting donations of baby wipes, laundry vouchers and bottled water to help the residents.

You can drop off donations between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays at 2680 NE Twin Knolls Drive, Suite 110, Bend, OR 97701

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The following notice was sent to residents last Saturday:

We have enjoyed clean, fresh, tasty water here at Collective Parks Juniper Hilltop for a very long time. We want to continue this privilege going forward. However, our well pump collapsed Thursday with the strain of drought conditions due to water level falling, along with everyone's usage. Thank you for your patience and resilience the last 2 days. Water is being trucked in daily for the short term. Therefore, to conserve our drinking/cooking water, until further notice:

  1. Do not use washing machines and automatic dishwashers.
  2. Do not leave water running while washing dishes, brushing teeth, or shaving, etc.
  3. Only take short 5 minute showers; no baths.
  4. Only flush toilets 2-4 times a day; but don't let fecal matter plug your toilet.

This is a great opportunity to test ourselves in our ability to survive with minimal necessities. We enjoy the freedom and responsibility to be self-reliant, and effectively prepare for the unexpected. Therefore, each household should have at least a 72-hour plan [3 days]; 72-hour provisions: food, water, emergency essentials, medications, money, and important papers. Remember when the park owners contributed some water for our emergency plan? Hopefully you remembered to store them in your homes for your emergency use. We are all surprised with the closeness of the August 2020 fire. We survived that emergency evacuation. Let's continue to be neighborly and courteous of each other. Let's conserve drinking/cooking water.

Park Management

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Bola Gbadebo

Bola Gbadebo is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Bola here.

Comments

59 Comments

      1. Herr G ~ so how would you feel if you didn’t have any water? Would you be crying the blues? Chasing the blame? Why are you so lacking in care for others.

        1. The first answer is that HG is too focused on political hatred of the opposition of HG’s ideologies.
          The second answer to that is that HG has no heart and should visit the Wizard of OZ. Maybe HG should ask for a brain while they are at it.

          1. Ask Avion where they get most of their water from? I can give you a tour of Avion’s well pumps around Central Oregon. They pump the water straight out of the aquafer. Try again

          2. Other City water comes from Tumalo Creek and Bridge Creek. We have a river running through Bend and and along side Redmond. As far as I know, there is no water from the Deschutes being used as drinking water. I could be mistaken about that. I know of no water purification plants taking water from the river.

        1. City water comes from wells, in some areas. Treating the desert like the valley in terms of landscaping as well as not conserving in the house hold, will catch up with you.

      1. Our personal well was 900 feet deep, other wells in the area as deep as 1300’, dry as a bone, water is not an infinite resource, look at teh aquifer in the Mid-West, farmers have pumped it nearly dry, deepened the wells more than once, now pump sand……..there is only so much of it and when you waste it early on, or build beyond what the resource can supply, you will go dry

        1. Obviously drilling deeper is not a permanent fix but a present day necessity. Conserving water would help. Shorter showers. Turn water off while brushing teeth. Flush only solid waste. Compost food waste rather than garbage disposal. Zero scape your yard. Even wash you cars at a car wash that recycles the water they use. Or don’t wash your car at all. Water is our single most important resource. With out water we don’t have food. Our governments need to begin building desalination plants. The Earth has an abundance of water. It just happens to be in an undrinkable form that can be made drinkable.

          1. Many of these ideas are what we should be doing anyway, just to be good stewards of our resources and mindful of future generations. However, like deeper well drilling, these actions provide just temporary and/or partial fixes that don’t really solve the problems that we are now experiencing. We should have never gotten to this point to begin with. How we got here is too many people procreating too much across the planet and the associated pollution and unsustainable consumption of resources. With each incremental increase in population, we are pressured or regulated to sacrifice more and more to conserve resources. This degrades the quality of life for everyone. If the population continues to grow, eventually people run out of convenience to sacrifice, and the shortages start eating into necessity. That’s when things get really bad.

        2. Which area is this, generally speaking? What was the typical depth to water in the well before it declined and ultimately went dry? It would be interesting to know about how many feet the water level has dropped.

      1. Gotta love the eco-freaks who now call it “climate change” because the “new ice age” of the ’70s scare did not happen and the “polar ice caps will melt” scare of the Y2K generation did not happen, so now it is all “Climate change” so no matter what happens, they are right!

        1. I try hard never to make such opinionated statements. I do explain how the land use process works, when it seems worth doing so. It doesn’t ‘slow’ (or speed) growth, it requires planning for expected growth, since Americans are free to move where they wish and develop if they follow the rules.

          1. It’s true that Americans are free to move wherever they want to,
            but if there are no homes, or very few homes available, that will
            drastically slow growth.
            Land use planning is supposed to take into consideration future growth,
            and developers are free to build if they follow the rules, unfortunately
            a lot of the structured planning and land use rules are seriously influenced
            by those that only care about expanding their investment portfolio and their
            bank accounts. They could care less about the affect that their decisions
            will have on a community in the future, as long as they get what they want.

      1. Yep, Barney can help us out here on the numbers. But I think it was about 93% of the water used in Central Oregon goes to agricultural users. So if the ag users just make changes to the system to conserve 10% of their usage, the home use of water could double and we will still be fine. We need to get the water in the aqueducts in pipe and they are working on that.

        1. You should do some reading about the dust bowl. Was that climate change as well? Or was it just another drought like every other drought in history?

  1. There are a ton of demands on water in central Oregon and there has been no real effort to try and slow the growth here. I love how last summer farmers had to go without but yet Bend continued to build new homes (which will result in more demands on the water supply) and the golf courses kept watering their greens. This is unsustainable. Time for the invading liberals (rich or otherwise) to find somewhere else to go. Ruin some other city and let us have our town back.

    1. The City of Bend Should turn off the sprinklers. More water goes into the streets than actually waters the grass in many public areas around Bend. Zero scape the roadside grass.

    2. Easy Handsome. You’ve made some sense in other posts but let’s keep in mind you came here from Cali too. I don’t like the influx over the last 3+ decades either, especially not the liberal mentality that seems to be sinking Bend. Nonetheless, and much as I agree with ya on some issues, any have right to come here. Fact is, you in your gated community with 3 extra houses monetarily benefit from it. You’ve spoken of taking a Ramsey course, what’s step 7 again? Something about give? I know the banter on here is frustrating, so is watching our little piece of paradise destroyed, but careful not to cross the hypocricy bridge. So you got any ideas other than vent against golf and for farming? I’m on your side, honestly I’m a small-time farm myself, but let’s be more constructive than just banter, and offer solutions.

      1. I was born and raised in Oregon and Washington and am 5th generation PNW. I made my wealth in other states and returned to my roots. I do plenty of “giving” to our local community and in other areas, so please don’t assume. And the correct spelling is “hypocrisy”, by the way.

        1. Didn’t assume too much I hope, only observed what you’ve proffered up of yourself https://ktvz.com/news/real-estate/2022/01/10/bend-redmond-home-sales-prices-hold-at-or-near-records-as-2021-ends-c-o-inventories-stay-tight/ the hypocrisy, good catch on that, I suggest avoiding is; having yourself come here, from wherever/whenever, but now disparage others from the same. Particularly of differing opinions, looks bigoted. You may as well be telling others not to make money cause you did it first. Good on ya if ya give, but do note that Ramsey bases his curriculum on Christianity, if all you’ve learned is controlling money controls transactions you’re really just boasting, missing the thrust of his course and no better for your wealth.

          1. Look at the poor little liberal trying to “police” me on these message boards. Next, you will try and doxx me. Good luck on that, pal. You clearly are not a conservative in any real measure. But hey, keep trying to marginalize me…I look forward to the challenge. Nothing you tried to use against me invalidates anything I have said, and anyone with a brain will see that. So, please keep trying!

          2. And by the way, Dave Ramsey has a “take no prisoners” approach to finance and other aspects of life, which I totally agree with. It is clear that you do NOT truly agree with Dave Ramsey in anything other than debt management. You should go follow Clark Howard or one of the other loser liberal financial gurus.

            1. Ok HandsomeStranger (clearly not egotistical there) I’ll “try.” I’m not a “pal,” not trying to marginalize you, don’t “follow” anyone, and wasn’t challenging so much as appealing to you through ethos, pathos, and logos. If I were to affiliate myself as left, right, liberal, conservative, democrat, republican etc… I’d decline. Been called many things, but am beginning to feel quite alone as I interact with partisan types. I have never claimed to be any of the above. I actually tried to agree with you. I guess your pride couldn’t handle my attempt at constructive criticism? If you take an introspective look at yourself and your comments; tell me you don’t see bigotry, arrogance, condescension? I’m not trying to invalidate anything you’ve said, just asking you to be honest with yourself. If you use an appeal to ethos, citing Ramsey or claiming conservative for example; then people will project your actions on the credible source you claim to represent. Ramsey uses Jesus as his ethos, ya think Jesus was the “take no prisoners” type? Conservatives assert they are the movement responsible for unifying the country, freeing slaves etc… you think the GOP wants people telling fellow citizens of the opposing opinion that they’re not welcome cause they use too much water? If you’re part of Ramsey’s “millionaire” meeting some time maybe ask him if he supports his name being cited as credible in the justification for such behavior. The angle of my argument as of now is that of pathos and logos; in closing I’ll pitch my ethos: I grew up going to church with persons who exhibited such behavior. It is a large part of why I don’t go anymore. So in appeal to authority, are your comments, by extension of citing Ramsey, who cites Jesus, how you want to represent said credibility on any message board? It’s just ambassadorship sir. As iron sharpens iron, light of the world, do to others, plank in your own eye, judge not, go forth, unto the least of these… and all that. I tried constructive criticism. Argument in its purest form is epistemological, (a search for truth.) That’s hard to find if one is only defensive, or resorts to fallacious ad hominem. Feel free to respond if ya like, and/or to correct me if I’m in error. But again: watch that bridge of hypocrisy, and I, with my apparent absence of brain, will try to see.

    3. All of our surface and groundwater is derived from precipitation, and consistent with climate change predictions, we have seen precipitation decline significantly over the last several years. As you point out, it appears that no one in a position of power is really paying attention to balancing development with what the present and forecasted meteorologic inputs can sustain. It’s just build, build, build and we’ll just improvise our way through any water supply (and other) problems that develop along the way.

      Even when development blows us past what available water can supply for normal per-capita usage rates, they can keep cash flowing to developers and expanding the tax base for a bit longer by enacting harsh water use restrictions. The intoxicating effect of Bend’s brand name should keep the overpaying buyers flowing in, provided that 15-minute showers are still allowed.

  2. Maybe I missed it, but it seems like the most important fact was left out of this article: who is responsible for water supply? It is called a ‘collective’. Reference is made to management. Is this a business? Is there an owner? Please, facts.

    1. Exactly my thought. *IF* this is a rental situation where the spaces for a mobile home are rented from owners with a management company (terms in the article suggest that) then doesn’t the property owner have a legal responsibility under the leases to provide an adequate daily water supply?

      A temporary “emergency” shortage for the first couple of days might be understandable in that case but I’d expect lease terms that either require compensation for expenses incurred by tenants or at least waiving of rent for days the property was technically uninhabitable due to lack of sufficient water. On any longer-term basis; shouldn’t the owners be trucking in enough water to meet normal daily demands rather than lecturing tenants on the opportunity to “rough it”?

      I might be 100% wrong; maybe the residents are collective owners of the property (didn’t sound that way) … maybe mobile home parks are unfortunately exempt from a legal and financial obligation to meet habitability requirements. Either way it would be great to see an article covering details on the timeline to correct and why temporary mitigation efforts have left residents in such an unacceptable situation for over a week.

  3. This is what happens when a lot of factors converge. Piping the canals is a big part of this. I guess the frogs are more important than people in trailer parks.

  4. I hope this one makes it past the censor. There are many factors that are driving this. One big one is the piping of canals. Poor rural folks and trailer park citizens were found to be less deserving of water than the spotted frog. This was brought up many times during every piping project, but it is always brushed aside. The center for biologic diversity and their cronies and lackeys at the irrigation districts realize this is a side effect, and they simply don’t care. Sorry poor folks, get better lobbyists.

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