Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Are Texas Prisons water hogs ?

From our friends over at the Grits for Breakfast Blog

TDCJ's Clements and Neal units, reported the Amarillo Globe News ("'An intervention' on water usage in Amarillo," Oct. 14) are together the second largest water customer in Amarillo, soaking up 44% more water than the city of Amarillo itself (395 million gallons and 275 million gallons last year, respectively). Grits has written before about prisons as water hogs. While TDCJ is the second biggest water customer in Amarillo, it's the largest in Abilene. In South Texas, the Connally unit had to begin rationing water and closed two wings because of excessive staffing vacancies and a chronic municipal water shortage.

Prisons' vast water use in mainly rural areas is a largely unexplored aspect of mass incarceration, but one wonders if, in the coming years, Texas' water wars might ever contribute to de-incarceration pressures? As water problems which are today viewed as annoyances become more acute, towns like Amarillo may begin to look at who's using up most of their water and decide whether or not the juice is worth the squeeze.

What are your thoughts?


  1. During my years, I traveled to many units, mostly in the panhandle and south plains, and yes water waste was rampant. Shower heads ran for weeks without shutting off. Sinks did the same. I couldn't begin to tell you how many water leaks I saw in the kitchens. Water leaks that ran 24 hours a day for months. Lawn sprinklers that ran 24 hours a day for days at a time without being moved. Hoses being used to wash vehicles, or water ever, then just thrown down and left running till time to turn in. I know there at the end of my career many units had stopped watering the lawns and flowers, some even had to stop watering the gardens. The waste and abuse comes from the buildings and staff/I/M's. I know maintenance is in a budget crunch, but how much does it cost to shut off a line, even if you have to cut it and cap it. I went to one unit that had hot water spraying from a steam kettle fill faucet so hard, for so long, it eroded the cinder block wall where it sprayed. I wrote it up as a safety hazard. Don't you think someone should have done that long ago? Maintenance in many units is terrible. I have seen hand wash sinks with no traps. When you would wash your hands, the water would drain onto your shoes. I have seen faucets in the kitchen secured with bread wrappers to keep them from leaking worse than they were. Many kitchens I went to had major leaks around the dish machines that went years without repair. We were working at one such unit one night and one of my I/M workers was working around the dish machine, and the water was of course standing 1/2" deep, and when he touched the machine, it shocked him. He wasn't injured, but we put up our equipment and went home. I notified the ranking officer, and the next week, the Food Service IV told me maintenance had found nothing wrong. We never worked around that area again, if it was standing in water. Go to the bar screen sometime and just take in the amount of volume of water going to the sewer system. (Take in the odor too, I couldn't do that I/M's job, you would just have to lock me up1) I have pictures to back up what I say. (I had a state cell phone with a camera) Just my thoughts, but it is a big problem, and should be addressed agency wide. Never has been, never will be. Good old TDC Hey did I ever mention retirement is GREAT??????

  2. Oh yea, before anyone claims I am just bashing maintenance, I was a maintenance coordinator for a while.

  3. At the Pack Unit we had to stop getting water from the Brazos River to water the crops. It did not matter anyway, they were never going to be picked.

  4. Seashores says.....It is a problem every where. Unit maintenance cant/wont fix the problems fast enough. If it doesn't have a work order on it, major or not, they wont fix it. There is a fire hydrant that has been leaking at the farm shop for 3months. Leaking so bad, they used a maintainer to divert the fresh water away from the road. They wont fix it because it is considered a major work order. Last summer, the previous livestock supervisor was dumping about 50K gallons of fresh water a day into a dried up stock pond in an attempt to water the cows......that could have been moved to another pasture on the river. Eastham control picket has a pressure gauge that if it drops below a certain pressure, they start calling outside departments telling them to shut off their water. Water usage was such a problem at Ellis, TRA and city of Huntsville installed a water tower to prevent pressure drop from the main line.
    Facilities installed push type shower heads that only last for a few seconds. But the inmates just rig them to stay on longer and the sorry laundry bosses do not care.

  5. At Jester Four, we robbed empty cells for parts. Our budget was cut so bad for Rick Perrys election. We are using more water for our powdered milk. What about TDCJ electric bills. Do a story on each unit, how much it cost taxpayers. Our Warden started cutting off outside security lights, that we needed to see. He just wanted to make his self look good. He even would cut back on food for inmates.

  6. From the Desk of BoBoTheBeaten

    Why can't each unit generate their own electricity? They could have a big wheel set up like a spinning wheel inside a chipmunk cage. The offenders could take turns running inside the wheel, thus producing electricity. Time in the cage could be used as either punishment or reward. For each kilowatt produced the offender either works off punishment or time off their sentence. This would also make physically fit convicts out of fat, lazy convicts. They could also have a huge set of storage batteries and excess power could be stored for later use or sold to another unit. It seems like I have to think of everything. Sometimes things seem so clear in my head.