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Hempfield mobile home park's water supply vandalized

| Monday, March 20, 2017, 3:30 p.m.
Jacob Tierney
The Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County provided a large tank of safe water to residents at the Pine View Manor mobile home park in Hempfield Township, where a vandal dumped an unknown substance into a water tower.
Jacob Tierney
A sign at the pump station at the Pine View Manor mobile home park in Hempfield Township, where a vandal dumped an unknown substance into a nearby water tower.

Destiny Kibe didn't learn the water tower that supplies her home had been vandalized until the Red Cross arrived on her porch with two cases of bottled water.

She said she was surprised to hear about the vandalism, but she's used to drinking bottled water. She's never trusted the water supply at the Pine View Manor mobile home park in Hempfield.

“The water here is always messed up. It happens all the time here,” Kibe said.

State police in Greensburg are looking for whoever dumped an unknown substance into the tower that supplies the community of about 30 mobile homes.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has ruled the water is safe to use, although a pre-existing boil water advisory remains in effect.

DEP testing found a higher-than-average amount of chlorine in the water, but it was still within acceptable standards, DEP spokeswoman Lauren Fraley said.

The public water system was unaffected by the vandalism. The tower is privately operated and supplies only Pine View Manor.

The boil water advisory is unrelated to the vandalism. Residents received a warning about a month ago to boil their water before drinking it because of “inadequate disinfection levels.”

“I moved in in January and noticed that the water smelled like sulfur,” Pine View resident Andrea Ohler said.

The Red Cross delivered cases of bottled water to mobile home residents Sunday, and the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County supplied a large tank of safe water. Ohler buys water by the gallon because she doesn't trust the tap.

The water at her mobile home was shut off for a few hours Sunday. Later that day, she noticed the water in her toilet turning black.

She called her landlord to ask what had happened but didn't get a response. She found out by watching the news Sunday evening.

Already afraid to drink the water, now she was afraid to use it at all. She took her kids to a nearby relative's house Monday to shower.

Frank Taddeo, who owns the park, could not be reached Monday for comment. Fraley said high levels of chlorine can interact with dissolved metals in water, causing it to turn black.

Park manager William Greenawalt said he's been working with the DEP to resolve the situation and plans to build a fence around the pump house, where water treatment chemicals are kept. He dismissed the water problems as a minor issue.

“That was just, the chemicals weren't strong enough,” he said.

Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to call state police at 724-832-3288.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646 or jtierney@tribweb.com.

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