New water treatment system at the Wasco State Prison nears completion

WASCO, Calif. (KERO) – A new granular activated carbon treatment system, now 80% complete, will filter 1,2,3-trichloropropane from the Wasco State Prison water system.

Construction began in late October 2022 and is nearing completion, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

  • Video shows activated carbon treatment system under construction at Wasco State Prison
  • Since May 2018, a chemical called 1,2,3-trichloropropane has been detected in the water at Wasco State Prison, which the California Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says can increase the risk of cancer.
  • In response to the contaminants in the water, the prison is nearly finished building a granular activated carbon treatment system to meet State Water Resources Control Board requirements.

The clean water that comes out of the tap comes from systems currently being built at Wasco State Prison.
To ensure a clean water supply at Wasco State Prison, her team has been working to remove 1, 2, 3-TCP since its discovery in May 2018.

“The amount of water is within safe drinking limits,” said Lieutenant Joshua Farley, spokesman for Wasco State Prison.

The prison's two wells were found to contain levels of 1, 2 and 3 TCP, which were above the maximum contaminant level of 0.005 micrograms per liter set by the California Environmental Protection Agency.

In response, the prison began construction of the granular activated carbon treatment plant in late October 2022.

“It all starts right here, this is one of our two wells,” says Farley as he shows 23ABC’s Dominique LaVigne the new system.

Farley estimates the project will cost about $2 million when completed.

“Do you get subsidies for this or is it taxpayer money?” asked LaVigne.

“We are a government agency, so the funding would come from taxpayers,” Farely said.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is overseeing the project, which the agency awarded to WM Lyles, and told me that construction is expected to be completed by November 2024.

“We just have to make sure the quality of the work is good,” said Joseph Brancato, director of correctional planning at Wasco State Prison. “If we see something we're not sure about, we might question it and ask for understanding.”

Because this came after several deadlines were missed, LaVigne asked if the extra time had increased the cost of the project, but he said it was unclear.

However, he adds that weather and unforeseen conditions on site were not the only reasons for the delays.

“The COVID situation and supply chain issues have extended the timeframe,” Brancato said.

He tells me that construction is about 80% complete.

“The water will come from the 2 million gallon tank we saw outside,” Farley said, continuing to demonstrate the system.

From this water tank, the water filtered by the GAC system flows into the pump house, where frequency converters were recently installed to regulate the water pressure.

“Everything we do is recorded,” Farley said. “The system tracks the prison's water needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

He adds that they test the water quarterly to get up-to-date information on 1, 2 and 3-TCP levels and that they post these notices for inmates and staff.

“The health and safety of inmates, staff who drink the water here, and the surrounding community is CDCR’s highest priority,” Farley said.

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