DOC orders more extensive water testing at Stillwater prison, brings in bottled water for staff and inmates
The Department of Corrections on Saturday ordered additional and more comprehensive water tests to be done at the Stillwater prison. Until the test results come in, the DOC said it is having bottled water brought in for inmates and staff.
The DOC said over 51,000 bottles of water were delivered to the prison Saturday — the inmates will receive seven bottles of water per day and the water is expected to last five days, costing the DOC around $5,800. The department added that it will purchase more water as needed.
This comes after nearly 100 inmates refused to return to their cells on Sunday in a protest that families and activists say was over a lack of clean water.
DOC Commissioner Paul Schnell denied claims of unclean drinking water on Sunday, but ordered re-tests of the water on Monday.
Data released by the Minnesota Department of Health and the DOC didn’t show any signs of health risks, but activists Tuesday called for additional testing, including the water in the cells.
A DOC spokesperson Saturday said that the newest round of testing, which will be done in the coming week, will include water from the faucets inside cells. The tests will also determine levels and types of sediments in the water supply, though the prison’s water supply is a well and it is not uncommon for well water to have sediments, the DOC said.
This will be the first time a sediment analysis of the prison water has occurred.
The DOC reiterated that data has not shown that the water poses any health risks and that test results have consistently met and exceeded requirements on a state and federal level.
“We recognize there are sediments in the well water which can at times affect clarity with a reddish-brown tint,” said DOC spokesperson Andy Skoogman. “It’s important to point out that although the water may be unclear, it has not been deemed unsafe through the routine third-party water testing.”
The DOC also said there have been no reports of water-related illnesses among inmates or staff.
The new round of testing will be conducted by both the MDH and the prison’s third-party contracted lab, and will help the DOC implement its long-term water filtration strategy.