Water woes resolved at prison in at Dick Conner Correctional Center

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

HOMINY — Water service was fully restored at the Dick Conner Correctional Center Saturday night, ending eight days of water woes.

Functions started returning to normal as the facility’s water system became fully operational. Water levels were being maintained and pressurized in the prison’s 500,000-gallon storage tower, which allowed for the water to be distributed throughout the facility.

Oklahoma National Guardsmen remained activated until Sunday to ensure that no additional assistance was needed.

The ongoing water problems started Saturday afternoon, June 25, when a pipe broke at the prison. After assessing the issues, officials called the Oklahoma National Guard, Osage County Emergency Management, the state Department of Emergency Management and the City of Hominy.

One day later, the City of Hominy experienced water line breaks, which compounded an already difficult situation — with the municipal water system proving incapable of filling the Conner storage tank.

Interim Corrections Director Joe M. Allbaugh commended the efforts of the assisting agencies and said he appreciated the long hours and hard work that was put into restoring facility functions. DOC workers were pulled from across the state to assist in the efforts, he added.

Also, the staff at the Hominy prison “worked tirelessly to pass out bottled water and make sure everyone housed at Dick Conner had his basic needs met,” Allbaugh said.

On Wednesday, DOC spokeswoman Terri Watkins said approximately 1,200 inmates at Hominy had been drinking bottled water and using buckets of water to fill their toilets ever since a water line breaks developed. Inmates were able to take showers on Sunday and Tuesday, but water pressure was insufficient to keep the system operating, she said.

No meals were missed during the outage and, contrary to rumors, prisoners did not have to drink “dirty” water, DOC officials said.

Built in 1979, Dick Conner Correctional Center is rated to house 1,265 medium and minimum security inmates across seven housing units. The facility operates a Corrections Industries shop to provide inmates with work and training opportunities.