Consultant: Brown water at mobile homes safe

Broken valve contributed to high iron level in water at Canterbury Estates

Canterbury Estates
A water filter from Canterbury Estates near Ionia. (Nov. 19, 2017)

IONIA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The company that tested the water at an Ionia-area mobile home park says it’s brown because of high levels of iron, but that it’s safe to drink.

While conducting a twice-annual flushing of the system at Canterbury Estates last week, B&B Water and Wastewater Consultants found a broken isolation valve. Company president Joe Baxter explained that was preventing the water from circulating properly and contributing to the murky brown water coming from residents’ taps.

On Sunday, some residents at the mobile home park off Tuttle Road east of S. State Road told 24 Hour News 8 they were worried about drinking and bathing in the water because they didn’t know what was causing the problem.

Baxter told 24 Hour News 8 his teams sent two water samples to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which came back negative for bacteria. He said the water is not hazardous.

But it still looks disgusting.

Justin Litchfield, who worked maintenance for the park up until a few months ago, says not much had been done to clear the water.

“They had to put phosphate and some stuff in there to help it, but it never seemed to help it and we had complaints all the time about brown and yellow water,” Litchfield said. “They just told us to add more chemicals try to get the rust and keep putting it in there.”

Baxter says the company treats the water with chlorine and phosphate, which sequesters iron.

The problem doesn’t seem widespread. 24 Hour News 8 spoke with several residents who say their water isn’t a problem, including a man who drinks the water every day.

“It’s not in every household and it’s periodically. It’s not like it’s been going on for four years,” he said.

As 24 Hour News 8 arrived at the park Monday afternoon., signs alerted residents the system would be flushed and instructed them not to use water from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday. Baxter also recommended residents flush their hot water heaters, which can also contribute to the discoloration.

B&B will be at the mobile home park at 11 a.m. Tuesday to continue flushing the system and suggest a way to keep the water clear.

Canterbury Estates management declined to comment Monday.