Water is flowing again to residents of Whaleshead Beach RV Resort north of Brookings, who have been without it since Feb. 3.
They are under a boil-water advisory until the lines are flushed and the water tested, residents there said.
According to an official from Hukills Inc., a plumbing repair company based in Medford, a large leak in a 2-inch line appeared earlier this month at the top of the resort. The officials said resort officials had been unable to quickly locate a company that could make the repairs; Hukills had repaired service to all but four cabins as of Monday morning, they said.
The incident didn’t sit well with Dave Knight, who lives with his two cats on the U-loop at the top of the resort.
“Being without potable water is more than a mere imposition — it sets the stage for a variety of potential health hazards to the residents,” he wrote in an email to the resort last week. “I’m so irritated about how this was managed, or wasn’t managed, that we weren’t kept in the loop. Plans should have been in place.”
Until recently, Whaleshead Resort was owned by the McNeely family. Attempts to reach the new owner, Andrew Kramer were unsuccessful. Management did not return calls.
The resort has had intermittent water supply problems in the past, Knight said, but they are usually resolved within a few hours.
Frustrated, Knight ended up calling the Oregon Health Authority’s Drinking Water Services department in Springfield.
There, water resource specialist Betsy Parry said Whaleshead was having problems with its “dug wells” adjacent to creeks from which it gets its water. The state gave them the choice in December 2017 to reconstruct its water resources so the water couldn’t be affected by surface water or add a surface water treatment system.
Resort officials opted for the latter option and are the midst of installing that; the deadline is in June, Parry said.
The only problems her department has had is getting detailed reports in the interim, she said. Some of those have included plans for review and documentation of planned or accomplished work.
Parry said she’d heard the resort had just started compiling daily reports of water tests conducted, as required.
“We’re just trying to see the daily results of the monitoring so everyone can have a better comfort level,” she said. “They need to take readings every day and submit them once a month, but because they’re in a phase-in period … now we’re pushing for that. Maybe they are meeting (the requirements), but we just don’t have the reports.”
She said the equipment is there — if not already installed — but without records, her department doesn’t know monitoring is being done.
“We’ve had plenty of calls from residents — it’s crazy,” Parry said. “The people providing water to them should be communicating to them, rather than have it bounce around all directions. I think communications is something that should be improved.”
Knight “toughed it out,” he said, but noted it could be worse for other residents.
He said he has to clean his cat’s litter box and had no way to wash his hands. While there are showers available at the base of the resort, that option isn’t readily available to elderly residents who might not even feel safe driving down the steep roads to get there. The inability to flush toilets was also a concern of Knight’s.
Knight listed a variety of suggestions management could have taken, including providing water to its residents via a portable tank such as that used in past summers when Harbor’s water is infiltrated with salt water from the ocean.
Four days after he sent his email of suggestions, management delivered a gallon of water and a canister of hand wipes apiece to each cabin — but Knight didn’t feel it was enough. He said he was frustrated with the lack of communication and wondered if the resort has insurance to pay for such short-term emergencies.
“Whaleshead needs to step up to the plate and take its responsibilities to its tenants seriously, which I don’t think it is currently doing,” Knight said. “It worked out, but it’s tough to deal with bottled water on an extended outage. And we’re paying for a service we’re not getting.
“But oh, it’s so nice to take a hot shower in my own cabin,” he added. “You know how important that is.”