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Water quality at Colorado mobile home parks finally to be tested after complaints of water

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Karla Garcia holds up her new comforter, already stained from the water that runs through the washing machine at her mobile home in New Castle, on Tuesday, April 11, 2023.
Photo by Kelsey Brunner/Special to The Denver Post

Residents in Colorado's mobile home parks have long scoffed when asked if they drink the community's water.

It's hardly even a question to think about. The answer: No, never. The liquid smells bad or looks like rust, they say. It stains dishes and sheets.

State lawmakers listened to these concerns — and now Colorado will embark on a multiyear effort to address them.

HB23-1257, signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis on Monday, will launch a statewide effort to test the water quality in mobile home parks that fall through the cracks of existing testing mechanisms. If testing reveals an issue, the park operator will need to complete a remediation plan and provide safe water for residents.

"It feels very empowering," said Rep. Elizabeth Velasco, D-Glenwood Springs, and one of the bill's co-sponsors. "We're finally listening to our communities and supporting working families."

The legislation — co-sponsored by Rep. Andrew Boesenecker, D-Fort Collins, and Sens. Lisa Cutter, D-Jefferson County, and Kevin Priola, D-Henderson — also addresses concerns that go beyond federally mandated testing for contaminants, including the water’s color, odor and taste.

It will be enforced by the Water Quality Control Division inside the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the state attorney general.

On top of the testing requirements, the legislation also creates a $3.6 million grant program to help park owners, nonprofit entities and local governments address water quality issues.

Water quality issues will be added to the database created by the Mobile Home Park Oversight Program, which tracks complaints against park owners.

Velasco, who grew up in mobile home parks in Colorado's high country, notes that this bill is just the beginning.

"We want to make sure there is clean water everywhere," she said.

The bill marks the fifth year in a row that the state legislature approved a bill concerning mobile home parks and residents. Previous legislation sought to make it easier for residents to purchase the land on which their homes sit, allowed the attorney general to enforce provisions of the Mobile Home Park Act and limited the number of times park owners could increase rent per year.

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