Plumbing in the basement and jail section of the Law Enforcement Center is badly worn and needs replacement.

A water leak in the basement of the Pratt Law Enforcement Center threatened to knock out 911 and other emergency service communications for Pratt County.

The leak was caught in time and the system was not damaged but it brought a major problem into sharp focus. Much of the plumbing in the basement and jail of the Law Enforcement Center is breaking down and needs to be replaced.

Pratt County Sheriff Jimmy White said many people think that the recent renovation in the LEC covered the entire building but that is not the case. The booking area was remodeled, a couple of new holding cells were added and the Sally Port where prisoners are loaded and unloaded into vehicles was expanded and that was it.

Some new plumbing was added in those areas but nothing was done in the jail area, laundry room or in the entire basement. The cells and their plumbing has not been touched since the LEC was built in the mid 1970s. It is in bad shape and getting worse.

The water leak in the electronics room was shooting water towards an electronics tower the included 911 service for the county. Another water leak occurred in the basement and sprayed water on filing cabinets holding case files and evidence. In both cases, the leaks were discovered in time to prevent serous damage.

Had the water hit the 911 equipment, it could have knocked out the system and been very expensive to fix, said White who wants the public to know that the renovation did not include the jail or basement area of the building.

"It needs to be updated," White said. "It's our (sheriff office) building, it's our plumbing, it's our problem and it needs to be fixed. There's a lot of water constantly moving in this building."

The basement houses the electronics for emergency communication, offices, a training room, evidence and records, equipment, maintenance and other storage.

Plumbing for water and sewer lines need to be replaced. Many pipes in the basement have temporary fixes and are just going to get worse until something breaks and its not found in time to prevent an expensive problem.

Inmates in jail can sometimes cause more problems with the plumbing when they decide to plug up the drains and overflow the toilet or sink. Each has its own valve to shut off the water but it takes a while from the time the problem is located to the time the valve can be shut off.

There are problems with the drains in the showers. The parts are antiquated and no longer available.

The jail portion of the LEC was not touched in the remodel and the plumbing is getting worse after 40 years of use. The valves used to shut off the water supply to the toilets are not shutting off completely.

There is even water getting in the vent line from the clothes dryer.

An architect and engineer have been called in to evaluate the plumbing to determine what needs to be done and an estimate of the cost so bids can be let for the project. White said he told the architect to use as much of current plumbing as possible to save money but still fix the problem.

The architect and engineer are in frequent contact as they determine what needs to be done and how to do it while keeping the jail open. Shawn Harding, the architect with HMN that did the work on the remodel has been brought in again to work on this problem.

@GaleR_Tribune