Sewage spill leads to water disconnect for Copperas Cove manufactured home park

"Ongoing violation" by the park led to water interruption

By LYNETTE SOWELL

Cove Leader-Press

 

With a little more than one hour’s notice on Tuesday morning, residents of Cedar Grove Manufactured Home Park in Copperas Cove lost their water supply.

The reason wasn’t for an unpaid utility bill, but rather a failure of the park’s sewer system. CGMHP has a wholesale water purchase and sewer treatment agreement with the City of Copperas Cove for its residents, and the park’s sewer collection system has had ongoing issues.

In a press release on Tuesday afternoon, the city stated that “due to the previous warnings and past assurances that necessary repairs would be completed, along with continued violation today, the City’s potable water system was suspended at approximately noon today for Cedar Grove Manufactured Home Community.”

A cease and desist letter delivered on Tuesday to CGMHP’s manager, Carmen Sims, and also emailed to the company that owns the park, Westwind Enterprises, based in San Jose, California, the city said the reason for turning off the water was that an active sewage spill was continuing “despite previous warnings to you and your assurances that the source of the discharge would be repaired and the discharge eliminated. This has been an ongoing violation.”

During Tuesday morning’s inspection, sewage from the park’s residents was discharging into a nearby waterway that’s part of the city’s municipal separate storm sewer, also known as an MS4 system. The reason for the sewage spill was the park’s lift station failure.

“This lift station has completely failed and is in a state of significant disrepair, which directly resulted in Cedar Grove’s system overflowing and discharging raw sewage into a nearby waterway,” Scott Osburn, Director of Public Works for the City of Copperas Cove, stated in an email on Wednesday. “This lift station must be repaired in accordance with state and local requirements. It is currently unknown whether additional issues exist within the rest of Cedar Grove’s collection system.”

The City as well as CGMHP has had workers on site this week to make repairs. Once those repairs are made, a number of local and state regulations must be met, before services can be restored.

The risk of exposure to raw sewage is a significant health hazard, should that enter the city’s water supply. If the city continued to supply water to the community that has a failed lift station and a raw sewage spill, it poses a significant health risk, not just for that neighborhood, but to the city in general.

“Raw sewage is known to contain harmful (disease-causing) bacteria, viruses, and parasites. These are responsible for a variety of diseases ranging from E.Coli (bacterial) to hepatitis A (viral) to Cryptosporidiosis (parasitic), to name but a few. In addition, the environmental impacts of raw sewage degrade waterways and threaten fish and animal species. The more sewage that is spilled, the more dangerous the risk becomes,” Osburn said.

Meanwhile, the hundreds of residents in the community are without running water. Unfortunately, due to the issues that led up to the water being turned at the park, the residents won’t be receiving aid from the state, even though the City submitted a request for pallets of bottled water, Osburn said.

“We have since been advised that due to the self-inflicted nature of the event (due to Cedar Grove’s improper maintenance), the event does not qualify for State aid,” he added.

Osburn said providing water through something like a water buffalo could lead to more issues, if residents used that water for restroom purposes.

“Public Works has also been in contact with Cedar Grove MHP Management regarding providing bottled water for their residents, as well as portable toilets. They have advised that they are attempting to do so at this time,” Osburn said.

CGMHP was distributing one case of water per day to the residents, per a social media post on Wednesday evening. Meanwhile, residents are having to make do by visiting family and friends’ homes to shower. Other residents are also purchasing bottled water to share, such as one  who purchased 200 cases of water for park residents.

On Thursday morning, GCMHP posted on social media that the lift station pumps were back up and running, that they were waiting on an inspection and hoped that water would be turned back on. However, that post had been removed by 10 a.m. As of press time Thursday, no announcement had been made as to when water services were being restored to the park for its residents.

The park faces fines of as much as $2,000 per day for the sewage spill. According to the city, the park is currently in violation of the Wholesale Water Purchase and Sewer Collection and Treatment Services contract that it has with the city. Although it’s not known at this time if fines are being assessed to the park, the park may also be violation of other State and Federal agency regulations.

Copperas Cove Leader Press

2210 U.S. 190
Copperas Cove, TX 76522
Phone:(254) 547-4207