WATERTOWN — A water main break at a local mobile home park has left many residents, including seniors and families with young kids, with no water inside their homes and an icy disaster outside.

At the Northland Estates mobile home park in the town of Watertown, some residents said they lost water suddenly on Monday, and haven’t reliably had it back since then.

“They’ve made promises to repair it,” said resident Bob Kirk, whose home sits directly in front of the site of the break.

Workers from Cook Properties NY, a Rochester-based company that purchased the park in October, were digging in the scrub behind Mr. Kirk’s home, and in his yard.

“They do more yelling than working, half the time,” Mr. Kirk said.

Mr. Kirk said representatives of the company have been in touch since late Monday. They informed him that a broken water pipe near the park’s pumphouse down the street was spilling water at an alarming rate, over 6,000 gallons per day.

Crews have been on-scene trying to make repairs in the frigid weather since then, he said. A company representative called him Thursday morning, he said, with word that the water should be permanently back on by the end of the day. He said he was doubtful though, as he looked out the window at workers trying to extricate a backhoe from a large hole in the ground.

Workers on scene declined to speak with reporters, but said they’ve been working flat out to repair the problem. Someone identified as the project foreman said the crew pulled an 18-hour day on Wednesday.

Mr. Kirk’s neighbors, Sandra and Earl Nicholson, have been dealing with water issues for the more than 15 years they’ve lived in the park, they said.

Both the Nicholsons and Mr. Kirk said they don’t drink their tap water, or give it to their animals. Both said they dislike using it to bathe or cook, and have always used bottled water or boiled water when possible.

The couple, in their early 80s, haven’t had reliable water since Jan. 1. Neighbors like Mr. Kirk, as well as their two children, have been helping by bringing water to them. A water-cooler jug sat on their kitchen counter, and they said they’ve been using gallon jugs to flush their toilets.

“There have been leaks everywhere, all over,” Mrs. Nicholson said Thursday from her living room couch. “It’s not uncommon to wake up on a weekday morning to no water, and those who work or go to school can’t shower first.”

Mr. Kirk said the property has strange water infrastructure placement, with cast iron water lines running behind every lot instead of in front of them. Around the outskirts of the park, the water lines are under dense scrub brush. Workers were toppling small trees and bushes with their backhoes on Thursday to get access to the pipes underneath.

The Nicholsons also spent part of Wednesday without power or heat, as the work crews had knocked out their power lines trying to dig up a faulty water line. The temperatures hovered around freezing that day, and the Nicholsons said their thermostat showed a 15-degree drop in the five hours they spent without power.

Throughout their years at the park, the Nicholsons said they’ve seen many leaks. At a nearby intersection, water has been steadily seeping out of the ground for months, leaving inches-thick layers of ice on the park roads.

A nearby resident, Brenda O’Connor, was outside her home Thursday morning trying to free her SUV from the ice. The leak from the pumphouse, which sits behind and to the side of her own home, had left even thicker sheets of ice on her driveway, icing her tires onto the pavement.

“I’ve been stuck since Sunday,” she said. “I came out and cleared my car, and the next morning 3 inches of ice were down. By the end of the day there were 5 inches.”

Her home has had water for most of the ordeal, she said. The only shutoff at her house was from Tuesday to Wednesday.

But through it all, she said she’s been disappointed with the property managers. They’ve only offered apologies for the inconvenience, she said, rather than offering to pay for the bags of salt she’s gone through trying to free her car from the driveway.

The Nicholsons and Mr. Kirk said they’re forgiving of the new property management company, saying they only inherited what’s been a long-term problem. They both placed most of the blame on Value Homes, who they said only put “Band-Aids” on the growing water problems facing the park.

“The new management (Cook) has been nice,” Mrs. Nicholson said.

The Nicholsons and Mr. Kirk also said that all things considered, they’re in a better position than many people could be.

“People have it a lot worse around this country,” Mr. Nicholson said. “We’re grateful for what we’ve got.”

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

I write about north country politics, Jefferson County and the northern shoreline towns of Lyme, Cape Vincent, Clayton and Alexandria Bay

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