ADEQ testing water at Douglas prison

The ADEQ is testing the water supplied to the Arizona State Prison in Douglas following reports of oil being in the water last week.

For the second time in less than a year, family members of inmates at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Douglas are, once again, complaining about the water being supplied to the complex on Highway 191.

“There is oil in Douglas Arizona State Prison water supply,” one family member told the Douglas Dispatch via Facebook. “Prisoners say the water smells like motor oil. Residue gathers around pipes and shower heads, which looks like oil.”

“Ensuring that the complex is receiving clean water is a top priority for the department,” Bill Lamoreaux, spokesman for ADOC told the Douglas Dispatch when asked about the water. “We are working with Cochise County (water supplier) and ADEQ to investigate this issue. I would refer you to the county for any additional questions about the water supply.”

Amanda Baillie, public information officer for Cochise County, said there are two wells that supply water to the prison, Well No. 1 and Well No. 7, and she is aware of the complaint and that ADEQ (Arizona Department of Environmental Quality) was down this past Friday, Jan. 31, to inspect the water system and take some samples back to Phoenix for testing.

“Well No. 1 is a new well the Bisbee/Douglas Airport (BDA) water system installed last year and put into production in October,” said Erin Jordan, public information officer for the ADEQ. “The prison is a customer of the BDA water system. When the issue of an odor in the water became known, the water operator immediately took that well offline and ADEQ sent an inspector in November. Some deficiencies were noted, but the inspector did not identify a source for the contamination at that time. The water system has been addressing the deficiencies in the Nov. 12, 2019 inspection and Well No.1 remains offline.”

Jordan added, after ADEQ received another report of an odor in the water last week, inspectors were again sent to Douglas to test the water system at BDA.

“The inspectors noted an odor in the water during the inspection, including at Well No.1 which remains offline and is not providing water to the distribution system,” Jordan said. “ADEQ is now assisting the water system by providing a contractor to further investigate potential contaminant sources. The system is meeting all drinking water standards at this time, but an odor in the water and at Well No.1 was noted during the inspection and the source of the odor has not yet been identified.”

Jordan stated, the water samples collected during that inspection will be analyzed with results expected back in the coming weeks.

“The water system is actively working with ADEQ to determine a root cause, and ADEQ is supporting the water system by sending a contractor to further investigate a possible source of the odor,” she said. “The water system is also addressing deficiencies noted in the previous inspection. Both the county and ADEQ are committed to identifying and resolving the issue"

Jordan was able to confirm bottled water is being provided to the inmates and employees at the prison. Portable water tanks are also onsite to provide water for other uses.

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