2018-01-12 / Opinion

Troubled Water

Imagine that it’s about a week ago: You’re in the dead of winter and temperatures are routinely falling below zero. You turn on the TV and watch as some meteorologist explain terms such as “bombogenesis” and “bomb cyclone.” None of it makes much sense, all you know is what you and everyone around you has experienced: Frigid, numbing temperatures that gave way just long enough for a foot of snow that was blinding when it fell amidst the howling wind.

When the storm ends you notice the mercury in the thermometer you hung just outside your window is resting below zero. Again.

You’re trying not to think too hard about your heating or electric bill.

You walk into the kitchen of the mobile home you’re still paying off, in addition to the sliver of land you rent from the mobile home park. You’re no plumber and maybe you don’t have money to call one if the plumbing freezes up. You sure as hell can’t afford a burst pipe.

So you run the tap — just a trickle — and hope that keeps the water in the pipes that run along a wall that’s cool to the touch from freezing.

During this cold and unforgiving winter, running the taps has been a necessity for many folks, including residents at the Bay Bridge Estates mobile home park in Brunswick.

Bay Bridge experienced a water shortage starting around Dec. 29, attributed to a high demand on the park’s well-fed water supply. As a result, water use was restricted during off-peak times to conserve water and allow the well to recharge.

The abnormally high usage was attributed to broken pipes, as well as residents who ran their taps continuously in order to keep their pipes from freezing during a recent cold snap.

The park — home to more than 1,000 residents living in 409 units — is serviced by two private wells.

The park’s management had planned to drill an additional well, but that wouldn’t happen until the spring. Meanwhile, residents were left wondering when they would 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, according to posts on social media. Others have sitting water in pipes freezing, causing back-ups when the water pressure is turned up. Many residents say water supply has been a problem for many years.

But this most recent spate of rationing was enough for park residents to mobilize.

Here is where the town of Brunswick stepped up.

Unsatisfied with the short-term solution offered by the owners of Bay Bridge Estates, Brunswick officials arranged bulk water deliveries to the mobile home park last week, to be paid for by the park’s owners.

Town Councilor David Watson, who represents the district in which Bay Bridge Estates sits, said he’s never seen the town respond so quickly to a situation.

“As long as I am on the town council you will not be forgotten,” he pledged.

As for the planned new well, the construction schedule has been drastically altered, with testing possibly by Jan. 19.

Meanwhile, residents have organized and are in the process of forming a tenant association. We applaud the attempt by residents to take the initiative to look out for themselves and their neighbors.

Bureaucracy is a slow, grinding process that often means even the most basic of tasks can take an eternity to complete. So we also applaud Brunswick’s council, Town Manager John Eldridge and Town Attorney Stephen Langsdorf for springing into action during this emergency.

It’s enough to restore your faith in government.

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