Cuyahoga County Jail hit with complaint over water quality; inspection standards also questioned

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A local attorney has filed a complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency about the water quality at Cuyahoga County Jail.

According to the complaint, attorney David Malik alleges that a water sample tested positive for coliform bacteria, and at least one inmate has gotten sick.

MORE: Attorney wants water tested at Cuyahoga County Justice Center 

That inmate, Cecil Fluker, spoke to Cleveland 19 on Monday.

"The water in the jail at the Cleveland Cuyahoga jail county is definitely bad," said Fluker.

He said he repeatedly got sick after drinking water he described as looking brown or black.

"The symptoms were dizziness, I passed out a couple of times, my stomach, I was throwing up blood, I couldn't eat -- it was just a lot of stuff was taking place," said Fluker. "Due to the fact that we're locked up in a cell, we can't go nowhere to choose what water we can drink. I had no choice but to drink what water was in my cell."

He said that's why he contacted Malik and provided the attorney a sample of the jail's water.

"At chow time, I took a piece of plastic and I ripped it off and I ran the water inside of the plastic, and I tied it off and I immediately called my attorney [Malik]," said Fluker.

Malik said he immediately took that sample to an independent lab in the Cleveland area. That lab determined that the sample wasn't taken properly, wasn't a big enough quantity and was taken at the wrong temperature. The lab did find coliform in the sample.

A county spokesperson said Cleveland 19 should check with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, because that is the agency that inspects jails in the state.

Cleveland 19 reached out to the ODRC who said that the agency does "not conduct water quality tests at the jails."

The only guideline Cleveland 19 found in state law about jails was that the water had to be "potable" or suitable for drinking.

Cleveland 19 has informed Cuyahoga County of that information and has asked if the county health department does water quality tests at the jail.

The county hasn't yet responded.

The county has previously said that the jail takes water quality standards seriously and isn't aware of any issues with water at the jail.

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