Crews work to restore water at prison housing 2,000 inmates
PHOENIX (AP) — Crews worked Monday to restore water at an Arizona prison where inmates had to use bottled water and portable toilets over the weekend after a well ran dry.
Cochise County crews over the weekend dug a deeper well to serve the prison in Douglas and an adjacent airport in the southwestern part of the state. They sought Monday to repair a leak and to dig another well, which will have to undergo 24 hours of testing before it can be used, the county said in a statement.
“Our efforts are focused entirely on restoring normal water services to the prison complex, as well as helping the Douglas prison community with emergency water supplies to maintain a safe and sanitary environment,” County Administrator Ed Gilligan said in the statement.
Water pressure dropped on Friday, and water was completely shut off for a time over the weekend so crews could work on a fix, said Andrew Wilder, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections.
Officials thought water was restored on Sunday, but pressure again dropped, he said. A temporary fix is providing water to two units that house a majority of the 2,000 inmates at the prison, located a few miles north of the Mexican border.
The prison has thousands of water bottles on hand for prisoners, staff and visitors, along with portable sinks and toilets, Wilder said. Meal service has not been interrupted, and water has been trucked in for evaporative coolers.
Temperatures in Douglas were expected to be mild on Monday but will rise significantly to the high 90s on Tuesday followed by triple digits.
The lack of water is the latest struggle for the state corrections agency already under fire for faulty locks at another prison, and for alleged retaliation against whistleblowers.
Department officials recently installed padlocks on 1,000 high-security cells at the Lewis prison in Buckeye, which typically houses more than 5,000 inmates. More than 700 inmates were temporarily transferred to other prisons. The union representing guards says lock problems led to an inmate’s death and the severe beating of two guards.