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Water outage at Montana State Prison affecting 1 unit

Water outage at Montana State Prison affecting 1 unit

Locked Housing

Items for a shower kit at the high-security locked housing unit at the Montana State Prison.

A water shortage in a unit at the Montana State Prison is affecting showers and toilets, the Montana Department of Corrections confirmed Thursday.

Prison staff have delivered bottled water to the unit for inmates to drink. Inmates are also using a tank of potable water to feed the toilets in order to flush waste, DOC public information officer Alexandria Klapmeier said in an email to the Montana State News Bureau on Thursday.

The outage is due to a pump failure that occurred Tuesday, Klapmeier said. 

"The Montana Department of Corrections (DOC) is working quickly to remedy this issue," Klapmeier said in the email. "Replacement parts for the pump have been ordered and are scheduled to be installed on Friday."

Forty inmates are housed in the unit affected by the outage, Klapmeier said.

Crossroads Correctional Center, a privately operated prison outside of Shelby, lost water along with the surrounding community in late July when extreme drought levels brought the nearby reservoir to critically low levels.

That episode, which affected the water supply across the entire 716-bed prison, took roughly a day to remedy as the Shelby public works department tapped new wells to restore reservoir levels. 

An inmate at the 1,600-bed Montana State Prison who notified the Montana State News Bureau of the outage said toilets were still flushing Tuesday, although he expected the function would soon fail. 

The inmate said those in the unit were being transported to other units in the prison in handcuffs in order to shower. Klapmeier confirmed Thursday inmates will be allowed to shower in a different unit until the water issue is resolved. 

The outage has not affected meals served at the prison, Klapmeier said. 

Montana State Prison is the oldest of the department's prison facility in the state, Montana Department of Corrections Director Brian Gootkin said in an interview in June.

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