HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — In the midst of near triple-digit weather, Henrico County’s Jail West is experiencing issues with their air conditioning system. There were issues with the jail’s water service earlier due to poor water pressure but it has since been resolved.
Bentley Chan, Assistant Director of Public Utilities for Henrico County, told 8News Friday afternoon that Sheriff Mike Wade notified DPU Thursday night about the loss of water at the jail.
During DPU’s investigation into the problem, a bad water meter was discovered, Chan said.
“We bypassed that [water meter] and not too long after, water pressure returned,” Chan said.
Sheriff Wade told 8News that no inmates have experienced medical conditions because of the AC and water pressure issues, and that pregnant inmates have been moved to another jail in New Kent County. Wade also said water bottles and portable toilets were brought into the jail for the inmates.
“It’s been difficult to take care of inmates,” he said.
8News walked through the jail Friday and saw inmates dripping in sweat and clearly unhappy with the conditions.
“It’s tough to see the conditions they’re in,” Wade told 8News, “which you absolutely hate.”
Inmates couldn’t shower or flush the toilet. The loss of water impacted the way things work in the kitchen as well.
“It’s difficult to cook without water. We have to do things so that don’t have to wash the pots,” Wade said.
Inmates have to temporarily eat off styrofoam plates and the jail bought water bottles, brought in porta-potties and have fans in the hallways. Wade told 8News they are doing what they can.
“It’s tough because you want to be able to do stuff and fix it right away and there’s no quick fixes,” he explained.
According to Wade, the women’s side of the jail is feeling the most extreme heat. He says the portion of the jail is on the top floor and facing the sun.
“Based on the complaints from the females,” Wade said, “which I think will be in soon, we’ve ordered them shorts and t-shirts as a uniform.”
Wade said he has directed jail staff to allow inmates to keep their doors open during the day and night to let cool airflow into the cells.
“We know the concerns and we’re working on them as fast as we can and everyone in the county is involved in it,” Wade told 8News.
Wade said crews were working to fix the water all day and told 8News late Friday night that the water had been restored at the jail.
“Water is open,” Wade said. “They just have to go around the jail and flush all the trash out of lines. Will be a while.”
Wade said the AC won’t work properly until the fall.
In addition to the jail, some residents in the greater Hermitage area may have experienced a short dip in water pressure. Chan said this was due to a leak on a large transmission main utility that crews were working to repair off Ackley Avenue and Parham Road.
Chan said the water pressure should be restored, but if customers are still experiencing issues, they can contact DPU at 804-727-8700 during the day or 804-501-5025 after hours.