A couple who have travelled through 80 countries on their off-road bikes say that the water in their temporary chalet is like "something you would only expect to see in the most poverty-stricken parts of Africa or Asia."
Simon and Lisa Thomas had bought a property on the Plas Panteidal holiday and residential estate near Aberdyfi as a UK base last year, but the global pandemic meant they were forced to stay for 12 months.
The pair have clocked up 500,000 miles over the last 17 years, seeing unforgettable sights such as the jungles of Burma and the plains of Africa, NorthWalesLive reports.
They said they've seen some of the world's worst "cesspits and hovels" but it was only when they bought the chalet within sight of Snowdonia that they began to fall ill.
“We knew about the problems when we bought the chalet,” said graphic designer and former telecoms business owner Simon, 51.
“But because of our lifestyle we were used to sleeping rough, in all conditions, so we thought we’d be able to cope.
“We had a different perspective on what is considered acceptable.
“But being deprived of a basic human right like drinking water is something you would only expect to see in the most poverty-stricken parts of Africa or Asia.”
There are 35 year-round residents at Plas Panteidal, and 92 properties that are rented on long-term or holiday lets.
For the past decade, a group of homeowners have fought the former estate owner Trehaven Leisure Ltd to undertake full site maintenance.
Philip Muddiman, was the director of Trehaven Leisure Ltd until it was dissolved last summer.
He said that work on the estate had been ongoing but it had been compromised because two thirds of residents had not paid their £600 annual site fees.
Residents claim they withheld their fees temporarily as no maintenance had taken place.
They claim that the estate’s sewage plant is prone to failure, and delivery drivers are apprehensive to navigate the crumbling access road.
Chalet owners say they have to drive three miles to Aberdyfi to refill plastic bottles as they have no clean drinking water.
In order to shower or bathe, residents say they have no option but to use water sourced from a spring below a muck-covered farm field that has tested positive for harmful bacteria including e-Coli.
Simon and Lisa began to suffer skin disorders after moving in, including psoriasis. They regularly see scaly red patches erupt across their bodies.
Simon says it was so bad he was scratching through his scalp.
“The irony wasn’t lost on us,” said Simon.
“We’d spent 17 years in the road, passing through tough places like the Gobi desert and the slums of Mali, only to suffer infections when we arrived in this beautiful part of Wales.”
The couple spent a month travelling to Lisa's mother's house in Machynlleth to shower there.
"Almost overnight the problems disappeared,” Simon claimed.
The couple spent thousands on a three-stage filtration system that uses ultraviolet light to clean the water.
But that didn't solve the skin issues - they reappeared, forcing Simon and Lisa to buy specialist creams and shampoos to tackle their ailments.
“It pains me to have to buy tiny tubes of foul-smelling pink cream at £14.99 a tube,” said Simon.
Trehaven Leisure went into voluntary liquidation last summer.
Residents belonging to the Plas Panteidal Association (PPA) have since offered to form a not-for-profit management company to take over the running of the estate, offering a bid of just £1.
The estimated costs for new water and sewage plants, new water storage tanks and an upgraded access road reach £1.19m.
PPA chairman Brian Kelly says one former resident had to shower with goggles on to protect their eyes.
He said that another resident has skin conditions so bad that he is forced to shower at a friend's house off site instead.
Brian, an Aberdyfi community councillor, has installed a four-stage water cleaning system in his own property.
The system, which also uses ultraviolet light to kill germs, has its limitations.
“When the weather warms up, and bacteria multiply, the water turns brown,” he said.
“As it’s so discoloured, the ultraviolet light won’t pass all the way through.
“One resident with a skin condition took a sample [of the water] to Machynlleth Health Centre for analysis, only for staff to wonder why they had brought a urine sample.”
Former director Philip Muddiman said that the work to the estate's water system had been ongoing and had been due an upgrade in June last year.
That was before the company went into liquidation.
Philip said that a replacement had been identified for a chlorinating machine that automatically dispenses chemicals into the water supply to nullify harmful bacteria.
A second filtering device for metallic elements was also due to be installed, along with filters to treat discolouration.
“This could have been done within a few days if only all the residents had paid their fees,” he said.
“I feel for those who did pay. It meant that instead of getting £60,000-£70,000-a-year for site maintenance, we were only getting £20,000.
“This money was still being spent on the site but we were having to prioritise things like water and sewerage rather than the roads.”
He added that a small number of residents were unhappy with their site agreements and they had spread discord among others.
He said that with proper treatment the water could be drinkable, and that residents were aware of the limitations.
Philip said that purification equipment was still on site and still available, so the water was drinkable if it was boiled.
He said he had been in constant contact with officials at the local council to resolve the problems, and that the company had to respond to the changing regulatory climate.
He said the remedial costs as estimated by the PPA were "ridiculous" and "poppycock", adding that the rusty condition of the water tanks was overstated as they had been lined with fibreglass to prevent contamination.
“Work to upgrade the system could have been done within days, no problem, and there wouldn’t have been any issues with e-Coli or any other bacteria,” he said.
“Yes, the water is coloured, but that could have been addressed too.
“If they [the residents] had spoken to me, the problems could have been solved quite easily, but no one did. They never wanted to meet me, even through my solicitor.
“Unfortunately they are now up the creek without a paddle.”
A number of the residents had been redirecting their fees to a fund held by solicitors, which would be paid once adequate site maintenance was carried out.
School lab technician John Starbuck said that the work was an obligation set out in residents' covenant.
“As little work was carried out under the terms of the covenant, we did not pay the money,” he said.
“But it’s still available once the work is carried out.”
Despite the difficulties faced by those living on the estate, Simon and wife Lisa, a 59-year-old IT analyst, don’t regret moving there.
The pair said that the Dyfi Valley was one of the most majestic natural wonders on the planet.
“It’s an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, at the heart of the Dyfi Biosphere, with some of the darkest skies in Europe,” said Simon.
“Yet we live in a place with no drinking water, a basic human right.”
Chris Moore from KJ Watkin & Co, which is handling the liquidation of Trehaven Leisure Ltd, was approached for comment.