PENDLETON, Ore. — Residents of a trailer park in eastern Oregon have been without clean drinking water for five months.

E. coli has been a problem in the Milton-Freewater trailer park’s well for years, Locust Mobile Village owner Nancy Shaw told The East Oregonian ( ). She said she is doing all she can to combat it.

She said she’s been putting a lot of chlorine in the water, but the chemical is beginning to erode the water storage tanks. It is also causing problems for the park’s 40 residents, who say it is harsh on their skin.

Jose Diaz said the situation is frustrating. Although he’s become used to buying drinking water from the grocery store for his family, Diaz said his 1-year-old child broke out in hives after a shower, which upset his wife.

A doctor recommended treating the child with antihistamine.

Shaw said that testing and monitoring the water is expensive. Although she is facing daily fines until the water is drinkable, she said raising rent to pay for water improvements would drive the impoverished tenants onto the streets.

Bill Goss, a regional engineer for the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division, said the state could lift its boil water notice if Shaw repairs the disinfection system.

“But that doesn’t resolve the long-term issues of the contaminated well itself,” Goss said. “At this stage, a new well would be the long-term solution.”

Goss said building a new well would cost about $100,000. Shaw said that just isn’t affordable.

Authorities are in the process of reviewing a letter from Shaw expressing interest in a revolving fund that provides low-cost loans for community water systems.

Information from: East Oregonian,