Water outage repaired at Henrico County Jail

Bad water meter leaves Henrico inmates, jail staff with low water pressure

HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - A water outage at the Henrico County Jail West has been resolved, according to utility crews.

Emergency repairs were wrapped up Friday night and water pressure was expected to be restored within a hour or so.

The Henrico sheriff had to order porta-potties during the outage and five pregnant inmates were relocated.

A temporary pipe was installed to fix the water issues at Henrico County Jail West.
A temporary pipe was installed to fix the water issues at Henrico County Jail West. (Source: Henrico County)

Sheriff Mike Wade said Friday the jail had lost water access overnight.

“I thought it was a problem throughout the whole complex,” Wade said. “But turns out, it’s directed at just the water coming into the jail.”

According to the county’s Public Utilities Department, a bad water meter was discovered at the jail during the investigation into the problem.

“We bypassed that [water meter] and not too long after water pressure returned,” said Bentley Chan, Assistant Director of Public Utilities.

Chan added after further investigation, the jail building compared to the other government buildings is in a different pressure zone.

“I hate the fact that we [have] this problem," Wade said.

The replacement water meter is scheduled to arrive Monday, according to Chan, but crews will temporarily place a pipe in that meter’s place to fix the low water pressure going into the building.

"[Right now] water is not coming into the jail at the rate it should be," Wade said.

Friday morning crews cleaned out some of the backflow preventers inside the building to flush the system hoping for a change in pressure.

Wade said they were still left with little to no water but is optimistic about the temporary replacement pipe once installed.

"Within two hours the pressure will have built back up in the jail,"

In the meantime, inmates haven't been able to shower or even flush the toilets in their rooms. It's why 10 portable toilets were brought in around noon Friday so the inmates could have that option.

Wade said the correction officers were going floor by floor and room by room allowing the men and women to use the facilities.

The low water pressure has also affected things in the kitchen.

"We have to serve everything on paper plates so we can throw it away,” Wade said.

The jail typically uses plastic trays, but temporary replacements were bought in bulk.

Wade added he’s also focused on keeping the inmates hydrated. A truck bed full of ice bags was brought in which will be dumped into coolers full of water in the rooms.

"We bought 3,000 bottles of water to start off with,” Wade said. “Everybody will get their own bottle of water soon… one thing I do is care about the people who are in the jail."

The Sheriff said Henrico Fire crews used pumper trucks to fill the cooling tanks at the jail in order to keep the air conditioning unit up and running.

However, Tuesday Wade said part of that unit is ineffective, leaving inmates and jail staff dealing with high temperatures in the building.

As part of the investigation into the water issue, Chan said there was a short dip in pressure in the greater Hermitage area as a result of a leak on a large transmission main utility crews were working to repair off Ackley Avenue and Parham Road.

‪We are working on a repair at one of our water pumping stations in the Greater Hermitage area and that customers may...

Posted by Henrico County - Department of Public Utilities on Thursday, July 18, 2019

While crews continue to address the issue, any residents experiencing a drop in pressure are urged to call the Utilities Department at 804-727-8700 during the day, or 804-501-5025 after hours.

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