In Depth: Century’s Water Supply To Century Prison Failed. Here’s What Happened, What Century Planned And What’s Next.

May 12, 2020

A 30-year old Town of Century water well was the only water supply for the 1,300 or so prisoners at Century Correctional Institution, and there was no backup source for water. The well pump was some 30 years old, estimated to have pumped some two trillion gallons of water to the prison.

Town officials and the town council were aware the pump had not been properly maintained in the past, and last fall the council gave preliminary approval to connecting their water system at the prison to a neighboring water franchise as a backup. That would allow Century’s well to be taken out of service for much needed maintenance. The agreement was finalized in April, and parts were ordered. They arrived just before the pump failed last Thursday, leaving the prison without a water supply.

Friday afternoon, an emergency interconnect using two, two-inch fire hoses was made from Central Water Works fire hydrants on the south side of Tedder Road to the Town of Century’s fire hydrants on the north side of the road. That, according to Century Interim City Manager Vernon Prather was supplying adequate water to the prison.

Inmates were provided with bottled water until it could be determined that the water was safe to drink after flowing through fire hoses.

But the pressure on the Central Water Works system is higher than that of Century’s system. That caused a 10-inch water main on prison property to break, leaving the prison without any water during the repair.

A portable water supply and temporary restroom facilities arrived over the weekend. The temporary portable toilets were not conducive to the state’s security protocols for close supervision inmates, so 190 of those prisoners were transferred out of Century Correctional on Sunday to other unnamed facilities.

The broken water main on prison property was repaired by Monday afternoon, and water service restored from the emergency connection to Central Water Works, according to Florida Senator Doug Broxson. Inmates were still being provided bottle water.

What is happening now?

In a November 2019 memo presented to the town council, Prather said the well at prison “needs major maintenance and should be repaired as soon as possible”, and he stated the well was delivering 320 gallons per minute (GPM).  By last week, the well’s output fell from 200 to just 80 gallons per minute before it was taken out of service. Water in the town’s elevated storage tank at the prison continued to supply some water into Friday.

“We believe the original output was 400 GPM when the well was constructed in 1990,” Prather said Monday.

A contractor, Layne Christensen Company, has been working since Thursday to determine the condition of the well and the repair process needed.

The contractor has removed the well pump and a 200-foot discharge pipe from a 350-foot casing. A video inspection on Saturday revealed that screens were completely submerged with sand. A second video inspection is planned for Tuesday.

“This inspection should indicate whether the well is repairable, or if a new well will need to be constructed. A repair would be measured in weeks,” Prather said. The shortest estimate for a repair is two weeks. “A replacement would require several months.”

There was also sand found in the well pump.

Prather estimated that if a well must be totally replaced, it will cost the town between $200,000 and $300,000.

Tedder Road from Highway 29 to the prison is closed due to the fire hoses across the road and construction.

Town Council Planned Ahead. But It Was A Little Too Late.

It was less than a month ago that the Central Town Council gave final approval for a permanent water system interconnect to Central Water Works — an interconnect that would work essentially the same way at the emergency fire hose method currently in effect.  The council had conceptually approved the plan back in November but legal fine points had to be negotiated by lawyers for the two entities.

Century currently has no interconnection with any other water system except their own system. The Central Water Works connection would provide the town with a backup for their water supply in the event of an emergency or the need to make a major repair.

Parts and supplies for the interconnection were already ordered and delivered, allowing the construction to begin this week.

The permanent interconnect will be along Tedder Road near the prison. Under the proposed agreement, the town would use Central’s water supply only in the event of an emergency, and the town would be required to submit a service deposit if the interconnect is operated and pay $2.50 per 1,000 gallons used. It would take a representative from both utilities with a key to open the connection.

Century typically would not be able to provide significant amounts of water back to Central due to elevation and pressure issues, according to the town.

The town will pay for the interconnect equipment and meter at an estimated cost of about $60,000 to $70,000, plus engineering work estimated at $22,500.

Central is also proposing to make equipment and personnel available to Century on a non-emergency, as-needed basis to repair or replace water lines, replacing water meters and other services. For instance, Central would charge Century $45 an hour for a licensed water operator, $25 an hour for an assistant, a mini excavator at $85 an hour, a work truck at $15 an hour and other hourly rates for additional equipment.

Central Water Works was founded in 1965 and provides water for about 1,000 members in Byrneville, McDavid and outside the municipal service areas of Century and Flomaton.

The Town of Century’s well at Century Correctional Institution only serves the prison and does not provide water for the town. The prison is located just outside town limits, but it is in Century’s water, sewer and natural gas franchise area.


13 Responses to “In Depth: Century’s Water Supply To Century Prison Failed. Here’s What Happened, What Century Planned And What’s Next.”

  1. Rasheed Jackson on May 14th, 2020 10:01 am

    The state should step in and declare the prison in Central Water Works franchise area. It is apparent the Town of Century cannot be responsible for keeping their equipment up, running, and reliable. Every department they have is in chaos.

  2. judy on May 13th, 2020 2:23 pm

    The pump was installed over 30 years ago. Know3ing the caliber of employees in the water system at Century, I would imagine little or no maintenance was done. Century is simply a disaster waiting to happen…Oh wait! Disaster has already happened. I am astonished that the town has not been shut down and incorporated into somewhere run by competent people!

  3. retired on May 13th, 2020 10:29 am

    @ DAVID

    you didn’t figure wrong, you were figuring in under the table payments, kick backs, personal loans.

  4. David Huie Green on May 13th, 2020 12:16 am

    “don’t quite understand the math of it taking over 15 years to pay for the $200,000″

    That’s because I figured it wrong, used $1,080 rather than $10,800.
    My bad. (Most embarrassing, too.) Thanks for catching what I should have.
    Corrected drops it down more like 1.54 years.

    David for checking one’s work

  5. Hmmm on May 12th, 2020 7:36 pm

    @David… you make a lot of good points, but don’t quite understand the math of it taking over 15 years to pay for the $200,000 well… I mean, a 15 year loan of $200k with high interest because of bad credit would only be around $2,000 a month, wouldn’t it? 180 x $10,800 = almost $2,000,000…

  6. Century on May 12th, 2020 6:32 pm

    I guess the water and gas will go up to help pay for everything. The ones has to fix the lines

  7. David Huie Green on May 12th, 2020 5:56 pm

    “the well pump was some 30 years old, estimated to have pumped some two trillion gallons of water to the prison.”

    Two trillion gallons? Nah.
    2,000,000,000,000 gallons/30 years/365 days per year/24 hours per day/60 minutes per hour = 126,800 gallons per minute.
    Ain’t no way.

    Even 400 gallons per minute times 60 minutes/hour times 24 hours/day times 365 days per year times 30 years of running non stop would be 6,307,200,000 gallons, 6.3 billion gallons total.

    Assuming it ran about a third of the time would drop it down closer to 2 billion gallons total.

    If they are using 2 billion gallons per 30 years, that would run about 5,555 thousand gallons per month. At the rate of $2.50 per thousand gallons, that would cost Century $13,900 per month to have Central Water Works Inc. supply it.
    If they were getting by with 80 gallons per minute, nonstop, they could probably do okay with less than 100 gallons/minute or 4,320 thousands of gallons at a cost of $10,800 per month.

    Replacing the well for the lower cost of $200,000 would take well over 15 years to pay back at the rate of $10,800 per month. (I doubt Century will last that long.)

    Simpler to just hand it over to CWWI on their way out — don’t know if CWWI would want it, though.

    Just random firings of neurons.

    David for numeracy

  8. BRING IT ON on May 12th, 2020 5:33 pm

    The they run Century reminds me of Prichard and all its mismanagement.

  9. retired on May 12th, 2020 11:21 am

    “Town officials and the town council were aware the pump had not been properly maintained in the past”


  10. fisherman on May 12th, 2020 8:56 am

    Where’s the money coming from to pay for all this? I think it’s time for Century to move the operation to ECUA.

  11. Chris on May 12th, 2020 8:48 am

    Poorly managed assets. The town needs to be put out of its misery. Incompetent would be an understatement. Thank you William, for the in depth report.

  12. Justsaying on May 12th, 2020 8:38 am

    Well, it’s good to see that Century Council is more concerned over “Will” being racist than fixing their town. Century is in shambles and Council members are hoping to be low level career politicians and living off taxpayer money, instead of doing their jobs and fixing the town. Keep up the great work Council. You’re doing a fabulous job.

  13. sam on May 12th, 2020 7:38 am

    there is no city police dept. the only thing the town provides is water, sewage and natural gas. the biggest water customer of the town can’t get water. where do you think the fault lies?

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