The Alabama Department of Correction on Wednesday confirmed that due to “several water leaks” occurring at the Elmore, Staton, and Draper Correctional Facility complex in Elmore County, water had been temporarily turned off for repairs, according to a statement from the department.
The cause of the leaks was the severe cold temperatures that fell on the state entire over the past several days, causing pipes to burst throughout the complex. A spokesperson for the department said on Wednesday that the water has been turned back on and the water pressure is rebuilding.
“While inconvenient, there have been no disruption of critical services,” a spokesperson said in the statement on Wednesday.
At approximately 5 p.m on Tuesday is when water pressure was lost at Elmore Correctional Facility, according to a source within the prison complex who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation with knowledge of the pipe failures, allowing only a trickle of water to come through sinks and showers. By around 1 a.m. on Wednesday, the system was completely shut down, the source said.
The pipe failures left no drinking water from the taps and no showers for the over 1,100 individuals in the medium security facility, with the only bottled water available coming from the prison canteen. The toilets were unable to flush due to the lack of water to refill the bowl once they were emptied.
“1100 people in a cage with 48 toilets full of shit and piss and no way to flush them.” The source said.
By 11 a.m. on Wednesday, a 33-gallon trash can filled with water for the toilets was brought in, with another following a 3 p.m. The water in the trash can was practically emptied when it arrived at the dorm toilets, according to the source.
The large vat of drinking water equipped with a spigot used in the mess hall for meals was replenished from an unknown source, possibly another trashcan filled with water, the source added.
Correctional staff also took water and soda from the prison canteen and allowed incarcerated individuals to purchase them during chow call, with a limit of six bottles of water per person, according to the source.
The freezing conditions have damaged pipes in and around the eastern portion of Elmore County, with the town of Eclectic noting in a Facebook post on Monday that due to “problems of the surrounding water authority,” the pressure and capacity of available water “will be limited for days to come.”
The Central Elmore Water and Sewer Authority, which is the primary water provider for the area, announced in a Facebook post on Monday that they were “in a state of caution” and told customers not to worry about losing drinking water “due to no water in the tanks,” according to the Wetumpka Herald.