KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- The state has some questions about a local mobile home park owner's plan to upgrade the park's water system, meanwhile some residents are complaining of new septic problems.
Currently the town and state are warning residents of the Sunset Mobile Home Park off Route 7A to not drink the park's water. In November residents were warned not to drink, or bathe using the park's water supply, but according to Building and Health Inspector Kevin Goodhue residents can use the water for bathing and cleaning purposes because recent tests showed appropriate levels of chlorine.
Also in November the town sought from the Superior Court Civil Division an enforcement action to get the park's owner, Jason Bushee Jr., to comply with an agreement he reached with the town in April to have the water system up to standards by June. Goodhue said Monday the town and Bushee reached an agreement before going to court holding that Bushee would apply for a permit for a new water treatment system from the Department of Environmental Conservation Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Division (DEC).
Goodhue said Bushee applied for a permit to install an ultraviolet water treatment system to replace the existing chlorine -based system, but on Dec. 12 David Swift, regional engineer for the DEC's water division, sent a letter to Bushee citing some concerns with the permit application.
Goodhue also said two park residents have complaint of solid waste backing up into their sinks and bathtubs. He said the problem started happening 10 days ago, according to residents, and the state, which has jurisdiction on mobile home park septic systems, was notified by Goodhue late last week. Goodhue said Bushee has also been made aware of the problems.
The town will also renew testing of the water for harmful substances, said Goodhue, as it has not been tested in the past few weeks.
Colin McKeighan, a resident of Sunset Mobile Home Park, said his mobile home and a neighbor's have separate solid waste tanks but share a pump. He said roughly 10 days ago he had solid waste back up into his tub, and one of his sinks has been known to discharge solid waste into the air like a geyser. He said he believes this has led to health problems for him and Bonita McKeighan who lives at the home with him.
Bonita McKeighan said she used a "snake" device to find possible blockages in their system but found none. She said she also contacted a local septic system pumping company, but claims Bushee told the pumping company not to pump the septic tank.
Colin McKeighan said he has been living there for six years and is not aware of the septic tank ever having been pumped during that time.
McKeighan said the backup issues happen when water is used more than a few times a day. He said since the drinking order was put in place he has been buying his drinking water.
According to Swift's letter, the system Bushee proposed to install has manufacturer recommendations for water "hardness" levels which according to Bushee's application will be exceeded. According to Swift, Bushee has proposed to clean the system more often rather than use a water softener and the letter asks Bushee for some indication from the system's manufacturer that cleaning will work as a substitute.
The letter goes on to walk about the court having required Bushee to address possible deficiencies with the water supply system and submit a plan for testing. Swift writes this was not in Bushee's application.
Bushee did not return calls seeking comment.
Sunset Mobile Home Park has about 11 occupied homes and about 22 people are affected by the drinking water warning, according to information supplied by Goodhue in November.