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Toxic Water 

TDCJ has historically had several problems with its water and multiple citations from governing bodies. Some have described drinking water that is brown with white or black specks, smelling like sewage.  

“I actually begged him not to [drink the tap water],” said Amy Aguilar, who's loved one is at TDCJ’s Ferguson Unit. Her significant other — whose name she asked us not to reveal— has described the water as “rancid” smelling. And she said she was concerned about the quality.  

“Do you smell the sewer?” Aguilar said she asked him, “And he goes, 'you kind of just smell it all. It's just this big ole rich mix of rancid smell.'”  

Contaminants have been found in the water at multiple units. In units that use city water, it has often been contaminated or shut off completely.

  • Arsenic,

  • Lead

  • Harmful bacteria


Limited access to bottled water

Bottled can be purchased, and the price of bottled water went up 50% in prison commissaries across Texas last summer, while incarcerated individuals struggled to endure an entrenched and deadly heatwave in facilities without air conditioning. 

The state raised the price from $4.80 per case (24 bottles) to $7.20 per case on June 27, 2023 (Walmart sells a case of water for just over $5.00).  Incarcerated individuals via their families are paying higher prices than many free world stores.   


“I would never drink the water at the tap,” said Don Aldaco, a recently paroled man who spent 24 years in various TDCJ facilities. “I would always get a piece of a sheet, and I would tie it on the actual spigot, like a filter. I would have to change it like every other day because of all the rust and all the crud coming out. 



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