Jason Clark, the director of public information for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, confirmed water pressure has been low since Wednesday.Long-time readers may recall that TDCJ is Abilene's largest water user, by far.
Clark said water use is being restricted -- showers and laundry are limited, and water to some buildings is being shut off intermittently.
“When the water is off to those buildings, obviously the persons cannot flush the toilet at that point, but once it comes back on they have the ability to do that,” Clark said. “We're just ensuring we restrict water so we can keep that water pressure up.”
The TDCJ and the city of Abilene are working on the problem. Both say the issue is the other’s responsibility.
“It does not appear at this time that it's [the problem’s] on our property, so they continue to investigate that,” Clark said.
“We suspect there is an issue on their side of the meter,” Rodney Taylor, interim director of water utilities, said. “We really don't have access on that side of the meter to help them resolve the issue.”
This news comes on the heels of a related 5th Circuit ruling. As the Austin Statesman reported, "Wednesday’s appeals court decision said Louisiana prisons could avoid heat-related cruel and unusual punishment by cooling common areas and supplying personal ice containers and ample cold water."
The weather forecast in Abilene predicts highs of 95-99 degrees Fahrenheit over the next few days. How exactly will TDCJ provide ice or cold water if there's not enough water to flush the toilets?