RODNEY DORAY speaks on Tuesday, with fellow Bay Bridge Estates resident Patty Aube looking on, about the way the mobile home park’s water shortage has been handled.

RODNEY DORAY speaks on Tuesday, with fellow Bay Bridge Estates resident Patty Aube looking on, about the way the mobile home park’s water shortage has been handled.

BRUNSWICK

A water shortage at a Brunswick mobile home park has tenants and management pointing fingers at each other.

Bay Bridge Estates representatives say the mobile home park’s well-fed water supply has been threatened due to residents continually running water to keep pipes from freezing. However, residents who have dealt with water issues for several years say enough is enough and are demanding a long-term solution.

PATTY AUBE of Valerie Avenue in Bay Bridge Estates in Brunswick demonstrates her water pressure at full force.

PATTY AUBE of Valerie Avenue in Bay Bridge Estates in Brunswick demonstrates her water pressure at full force.

The current water shortage began Friday and continued through the weekend at the mobile home park off Old Bath Road.

Tenants have turned to social media to vent their frustrations and call for action. Patty Aube of Valerie Avenue has been posting regular video of running water on a new Facebook group showing water flow from her kitchen sink. With heat tape and pipe insulation, her pipes haven’t frozen, but she is experiencing the rationing the park management staff has implemented to preserve water. Tenants alleged they weren’t notified of the issue, however.

Many have posted on Facebook trying to find out when they will have enough water to shower and do laundry. Some have been caring for sick children during the water shortage, unable to wash hands or flush the toilet. Others have sitting water in pipes freezing, causing back-ups when the water pressure is turned up.

Aube said she found one of her elderly neighbors outside trying to warm his pipes believing he had no water due to frozen pipes, illustrating a lack of communication from park management.

More frustrating, longtime tenants say the problem has gone on for years.

“For the last 22 years I have lived here, we have had major breaks every winter and every summer,” said Aube.

She lives in the original part of the park constructed in the 1960s and said she has original copper piping carrying water to her 2007 mobile home, which she believes had led to water pressure issues.

“We’ve asked for years to have the piping in this section redone,” Aube said.

On Tuesday, residents started a petition demanding the water issue be addressed and requesting a long-term solution.

Park management

“The simple answer is yes, a potential solution exists and is within sight,” said Kevin McCarthy, who identified himself as the manager of the ownership entity of the park.

The park is managed by American Multifamily Management LLC, which is an agent for BBE LLC.

“The problem is that, because of this prolonged cold snap, we have seen ironically enough a pretty dramatic increase in water usage within the park and we think that this is the result of the park residents running water to prevent their pipes from freezing,” McCarthy said.

Also over the weekend, management discovered that there were two homes that had leaks — one of which was substantial and the tenant failed to notify management.

The park — home to more than 1,000 residents living in 409 units — is serviced by two private wells. If residents run their water even at a trickle, it amounts to a substantial use of water that depletes the level of water normally available for everyday use, according to McCarthy. The system includes 12 storage tanks which also get depleted over time. When the naturally occurring well water can’t sufficiently replenish the water tanks, it decreases water supply and water pressure, which leads to a host of other problems.

As an emergency measure to conserve water, management has controlled water pressure, decreasing it until times when residents need it most.

McCarthy said, during the last few years, the water supply has lost capacity, even in the summer due to drought conditions. Connecting to public water and sewer is cost-prohibitive, and in the order of $10 million just to extend the public water line and redo all the water lines in the park.

The company planned to drill a third well after this winter, he said, in order to hopefully eliminate the water supply issue.

In the meantime, McCarthy recognized the need for more education and communication on the management company’s part.

“This is a big piece of land with a lot of living units on it and it’s a challenge to maintain it,” he said.

Water lines in the original part of the park weren’t recorded or constructed well as the park grew in starts and fits, so new lines are always being found.

“We think we’re doing a good job but we also need tenants cooperation,” McCarthy said. “Our staff has been pretty much straight out now for four or five days, trying to address all of the problems and we certainly understand it’s frustrating, annoying and, in some cases, potentially very problematic for some people not to have a fully operational water system.”

Residents are advised to take precautions to avoid freezing pipes without running water: Make sure the skirting around the mobile home is secure and wind-resistant, use heat tape on pipes and be sure it’s functional; use proper insulation, and turn the heat on in the mobile home upward of 75 degrees and open the cabinet doors around pipes in the kitchen and bathroom.

Official visits park

Jeff Emerson, Brunswick deputy fire chief and the town’s health officer, was at the mobile home park Tuesday after receiving multiple complaints from residents.

“I am in touch with CDC as far as some of the decisions that will be made in the next couple weeks and (the park has) been working with the Maine Drinking Water program to make sure what they have is safe,” Emerson said.

He emphasized he plans to remain involved in the process until he’s satisfied with the water volume, which goes hand in hand with the water system’s integrity. The infrastructure will probably be looked at moving forward, he said.

The water crisis has spurred complaints about other issues within the park, from speeding to a lack of tree care to road maintenance. A Bay Bridge community meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Friday at the American Legion in Bath, where tenants can discuss concerns.

Resident Rodney Doray spoke to Gail Godbout, the director of management, Tuesday afternoon. He said she’d be open to residents forming a council with levelheaded representatives to serve as a line of communication between management and residents.

“Our frustration lies with us calling them and not having any answers and nobody able to tell us anything at all,” Doray said. “Our plan is trying to push their backs against the wall to give us the service that we should be having.”

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