TORRANCE, Calif. — For years, oily, odorous and — at times — thick runoff water flowed from the back end of the Knolls Lodge Mobile Home Park in Torrance into the storm drain of a neighboring cul-de-sac.
Marc Evans’ family home happens to be in the runoff water’s path, and he has been trying to get it to stop for years. Evans shared that the area recently caught a break from the eyesore.
"It’s been a couple of weeks now," Evans said. "It’s been a real noticeable difference how dry it’s been. It’s been great. The smell is largely gone from it the black goo cleaned out of there."
The flow came from the park’s resident car wash area that’s located along a brick wall sharing a property line with Evans’ family home. His family has been trying to get the city’s attention on the matter for years without any longterm solutions, according to Evans, who has spent time as a Greenpeace activist.
In June, Evans shared his frustration as the flow continued in front of his home.
"The runoff is intense," he said. "It's every day during the storms. It would run all the way across the street."
Evans, with a shovel in hand, said that he would have to push the debris forward at least two times a week as it collected in front of his driveway. The park’s car wash area had been previously shut down by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System for the gray water runoff — which could be oil, soap or other pollutants — back in 2018.
The issue was then forwarded to the California Department of Housing and Community Development to find a resolution that would allow the park to reopen the car wash area and prevent wastewater runoff from leaving the property line.
Scott Bessire, property manager for the Knolls Lodge Mobile Home Park, shared that they had installed a state-approved drain box and curb cut to collect the wastewater, allowing the area to reopen in 2019.
Evans explained that despite the installations, the runoff kept flowing in front of his home. After Spectrum News 1 reached out to the Torrance Fire department last month regarding this issue, the NPDES officer followed up on the issue and found the car wash area, once again, in violation — this time, with the drain box being full with gray water, the curb cut not containing the water, and the car wash being in use while water continues to flow under the fence and into the storm drain.
The car wash area is now closed again. But this is just one pollution issue that makes its way to our rivers and oceans. Annelisa Moe is a water quality scientist with Heal The Bay who shared that storm drain come without filters.
"Pollution is a pretty major problem here in Los Angeles," she said. "Two hundred and eight water bodies are listed as impaired for various pollutants."
Despite permits in place by the Los Angeles Water Quality Control Board, many polluters go without consequences. Currently, the board is reviewing additional regulations that could soon change enforcement issues.
“These cities and counties are in charge of reducing stormwater pollution, and it’s under this permit that this action is enforced and regulated,” Moe said.
According to the Torrance NPDES officer, the mobile home park was found in violation on June 26 and was issued a cease and desist until the city and the park’s management can come to a resolution. Spectrum News 1 reached out to the mobile home park, who stated they would comply with the violation notice.
“I hope that it means that it’s permanent,” Evans said.
As officials and the mobile home park continue to find a resolution that won’t impact the environment, Evans is relieved to see a dry street in front of his home.