Frozen well forces prison to use bottled water

Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Officials at the Palmer Correctional Center near Sutton had to truck in bottled water and portable toilets last week for inmates and staff after lines for a well supplying water to the prison froze.

Crews have been drilling a new well at the prison since a pump on the facility's main well failed in January, said Bruce Richards, state Department of Corrections spokesman.

No one knows why the pump failed. The well is 500 feet deep and the line was so crooked that crews were unable to pull the pump out or put a new line in, Richards said.

Since then, officials had been relying on two backup wells for water. One is near the prison and one about 500 yards away. On Wednesday, lines leading from the latter well froze, leaving the prison short of water.

Prisoners could still take showers and flush toilets, but crews had to bring in water for drinking and cooking. They also brought in portable toilets, which had been on hand after the main well failed, he said.

Frozen lines were thawed Friday, but prison officials will continue to bring in water until state environmental officials recertify that the well water is safe for drinking, Richards said.

He estimated the prison had spent about $5,000 as of Friday to bring in bottled water.

The facility has about 100 staff members and houses about 400 medium and minimum security prisoners, he said.

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