Cottonwood Water Officials Outsource Testing Following Investigation and Indictment

Jun 20, 2018

The indictment followed an investigation by the Arizona Department of Health Services. It revealed untrained personnel took water samples and didn’t follow other testing and paperwork procedures. Cottonwood officials voluntarily gave up the city’s laboratory license, and say they’re now in compliance with state standards.

Old Town Cottonwood's Main Street
Credit vineyardscottonwood.com

The indictment followed an investigation by the Arizona Department of Health Services. It revealed untrained personnel took water samples and didn’t follow other testing and paperwork procedures. Cottonwood officials voluntarily gave up the city’s laboratory license, and say they’re now in compliance with state standards.

Utilities manager Roger Biggs says the city’s water is safe and public health was never at risk.

"It was just kind of a tradition here that we did it in-house and that has changed now. And probably for the better I‘m sure. This has been quite a lesson to us and I think in the long run we’ll be better for the trauma that we’re going through," he says.

Biggs also says several city employees resigned following the investigation.

Prosecutors allege an ex-foreman of the Cottonwood Water Testing Lab, Hans Burnett, ordered employees to change bacteria test results from positive to negative. Authorities say the falsified results were submitted to state regulators in 2015 and 2016. Burnett faces felony charges and hasn’t yet entered a plea.

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