Water quality concerns at William Beaumont Army Medical Center are forcing staff to divert trauma cases and delay surgeries at the new hospital, U.S. Army officials at Fort Bliss said Friday.

Officials described water in multiple areas of the medical center as discolored and containing “sediment” in a press release issued Thursday. A spokesperson for Fort Bliss said they had “no additional facts” regarding the appearance of the water and the Army post declined to make anyone available for an interview.

The water quality issue was first raised on March 25 by a single department at the medical complex, but was later found to be hospital-wide on April 6 after further testing, officials said in the press release.

Officials said the water poses no “pathogenic or biological concerns,” but was declared by the hospital commander as “not safe” for drinking or sterile procedures. Officials said they will divert emergency cases, sterilize equipment offsite and delay elective surgeries.

In a Facebook post, officials representing the hospital wrote that the dining facility “has and will continue to only provide food and services that do not require the use of water for cooking,” adding that handwashing with the water is safe.

Officials said multiple rounds of testing showed that water supplies from El Paso Water Utility were not the source, saying the “root cause of the discoloration and sediment lies within the hospital’s internal plumbing,” in the press release.

The mammoth 964,152-square-foot medical facility has been open less than a year.

Initially, the hospital was supposed to open in 2017, but as recently as 2021 the El Paso Times reported 521 safety issues found by inspectors, mostly related to fire safety. Construction costs ballooned to more than $629 million over the original estimate, putting taxpayers on the hook for $1.4 billion.

Danielle Prokop is a climate change and environment reporter with El Paso Matters. She’s covered climate, local government and community at the Scottsbluff Star-Herald in Nebraska and the Santa Fe New...