‘Silly mistake’ might be cause of rusty water at Rockland Oaks


SCITUATE – Scituate Housing Authority chairman Terrell Parker said that a solution to long-standing water problems may be in the works for the Rockland Oaks senior housing complex as rust-colored water continues to flow in the western half of the property.

Parker said Rural Consulting property manager Pauline Galbreath brought in a plumbing company to take another look at the water system of the 24-unit apartment complex. Half of the complex has clear running water while the other half continues to have the rust-colored water that has plagued the facility for years.

Galbreath and the SHA had hoped a water heater flush would clear up the rusty water, but it didn’t, Parker said.

While SHA officials felt the problem meant replacing the water heater, Galbreath recommended Parker take a look at the system’s plumbing. There the plumber found that part of the pipe was not connected to the water filter. A situation that she said is most likely causing the water problems. The missing connection was likely an oversight by a plumber who worked a few years ago, around the same time the water problems began in Rockland Oaks, Parker said.

“Seems like a stupid mistake that will be an easy fix,” he said.

Parker said reconnecting won’t cost much, probably less than replacing a water heater. He expects the repairs to be done in the next few weeks.
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Parker said once the water issues are resolved, his next steps at Rockland Oaks will be to build trust between its tenants and the SHA. He said tensions have been high since the water problems began.

“I want to be proactive before there are big problems. I want to be transparent and hardworking and provide information to residents to help rebuild that trust, ”he said.

Parker added that the SHA has no plans to connect the two water systems in Rockland Oaks. There are currently 12 units on one system and another 12 units on a separate system. With a wash basin in the common room, the combined system can supply 25 units and thus create a public water supply.

The SHA split the water system in half in October 1995, months after a letter from the Rhode Island Department of Health notified Rockland Oaks of a violation of a strict quarterly monthly testing schedule. At the time, Galbreath recommended splitting the system to avoid costly water testing.

Parker said Rockland Oaks has three empty units in the complex and that he hopes to fill the units from a waiting list of more than 40 people over the next few weeks.

He is not sure whether any of the available units are in the western half of the residential complex and doubts that the location of the units there would prevent anyone from moving in.

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