The 532-bed Maximum Security Unit near Tucker remained under a boil order Thursday, a prisons spokesman confirmed, days after a water main break shut down the water system at the unit and another nearby prison.
The Arkansas Department of Health issued boil orders for the Max Unit and the nearby Tucker Unit on Monday, according to copies of the notices released by the agency.
The order was the result of the main break and subsequent loss of normal system pressure, which raised the "possibility that contaminated water may have entered the system," the documents state.
Bacteriological samples taken Monday and Tuesday at the larger Tucker Unit, which houses 1,126 prisoners, showed no signs of contamination, according to the documents. Those tests caused the boil order at the Tucker Unit to be lifted Wednesday.
Solomon Graves, spokesman for the Department of Correction, said both prisons were returned to full service Wednesday. Because of the boil order at the Max Unit, the water there may not be used for cooking or drinking without first "briskly" boiling it for one minute, according to the order.
Other operations, such as flushing and showering, were subject to "intermittent" unavailability to some inmates, Graves said.
Images reportedly sent by a prisoner to the TV station KLRT-TV, Fox 16, in Little Rock show reddish-brown water flowing from a sink.
A 5,000-gallon tank truck from the Arkansas National Guard provided potable water to the prisons, Graves said. Water also was provided by four smaller tanks owned by the Department of Correction.
In August, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that Health Department records showed that Tucker's water system was operating at more than 150 percent of its 590,000-gallon-a-day capacity.
It's unclear if the water main break was attributed to the system's capacity issues. Graves said he would check with maintenance at the prisons.
A $500,000 project was already underway to add filtration capacity at the Tucker Unit before the main broke, this newspaper previously reported.
The Tucker Unit and the Max Unit are separated from each other by several fields near the town of Tucker in Jefferson County. The two units share the same water system.
Metro on 09/21/2018
Print Headline: Boil order still in effect for Maximum Security Unit after main break