Late last week, it was reported by multiple news sources that the water in the entirety of the Meadowlark mobile home community in Billings was discolored and potentially contaminated. Community management has assured its residents that it is working to take care of the problem, however, some residents are still concerned about when they'll have access to clean water again.

How bad is the situation?

I reached out to a Meadowlark resident, who requested to remain anonymous due to mistrust of the rental company, to ask how bad it's been this past week. As it turns out, this has been going on longer than one week.

"Our water has been brown since October. I haven't been drinking it, and I get my water delivered," they said. "I have no choice but to shower with it, but I have my water heater set to hot so it'll kill anything that's in it."

Credit: Anonymous Resident of Meadowlark
Credit: Anonymous Resident of Meadowlark
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In this letter addressed to residents, dated January 21, management stated that they are testing the water daily and working with a "third party Certified Water testing company" and the health department to make sure the water is safe and clean. The letter also discusses the cause of the issue, which was the result of a broken filter in the wells that provide water to the community; the replacement filter is on back-order, and the repair would be happening in the next two weeks.

According to the anonymous resident, the letter was the residents' first direct message from management regarding the water.

What are they looking for in these water tests?

According to the same letter, the basic tests that they run determine whether the water is contaminated with harmful bacteria, such as E. coli.

"We tested a sample from the well yesterday (01/24), and the results were that the water was safe to consume," said Moira David, spokesperson for the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. "Additional testing is being done on that sample for other minerals. Those results are expected by the end of this week, if not Monday."

Credit: Anonymous Resident of Meadowlark
Credit: Anonymous Resident of Meadowlark
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Normally, DEQ reports are not made public but can be requested through their website. However, David stated that the test results and report regarding the Meadowlark community would be public. A link to the initial water quality sample report from Jan. 24 can be accessed here. A request for comment from Meadowlark was sent Jan. 25, but no response was received before publication.

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"We're still being charged for our water, even though it can't be used," the anonymous resident said. "Hopefully they'll get the issue fixed instead of dragging their feet with excuses. I'm hoping they'll actually keep us in the loop of what's going on."

EDIT: As of Jan. 27, the DEQ has released the test results for coliform in the water, which can be accessed above or here.

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