This summer, we worked with our Duke University Stanback intern, Elizabeth Allen, to conduct a “listening canvas,” reaching over 100 mobile home park communities in 9 counties to learn whether and where advocacy was needed to protect residents’ right to drinking water. Our outreach uncovered concerning patterns regarding landord disputes and drinking water access and quality. Read the full report here!
Our outreach helped us understand residents’ perception and attitude towards the quality of their drinking water, with numerous households revealing that they did not trust their water, with some noting problematic colors, tastes, or odors. This distrust in household water lead the majority of communities we interviewed in eastern NC, predominantly low-income, Spanish speaking residents, to rely on expensive bottled water to satisfy all household needs.
Unfortunately the majority of residents we spoke with never received an annual water quality report. And, further, after contacting one major public water utility, we uncovered that they only offer water quality reports in English, despite serving numerous non-English speaking communities. Community distrust and uncertainty in the quality of their drinking water may be avoided if residents were receiving the important, accessible information outlined in these annual consumer confidence reports.
Although distrust in household water was widespread in many communities we visited, multiple people stated they did not want to notify their landlord because they didn’t want to make their landlord angry or worsen their living situations.
We look forward to working with some of these communities to ensure residents have access to safe, affordable, and reliable drinking water, and doing further outreach to identify problems where our advocacy could help.