Etowah Co. officials search for ways to keep jail sewer lines cl - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Etowah Co. officials search for ways to keep jail sewer lines clear

The Etowah County jail. Source: WBRC video The Etowah County jail. Source: WBRC video

There's a growing sewage problem that could end up costing  the taxpayer. The problem is coming from inmates inside the Etowah County Jail, who keep stuffing large items down toilets.

Officials say that they are trying to find new ways to protect the sewer lines when inmates flush items down the toilets to try and stop up the sewer lines.

Jail officials say flushed items include shoes, plastic wrappers, clothes, bed sheets, plastic, metal and even parts of a prisoner's mattress.

The jail has a grinder in the sewer system to break down some of these items but it remains an issue.

If county CEO Patrick Simms doesn't find a way to stop inmates from stuffing items in the toilets it could result in bigger bills for the jail.

"We would have to pay more for sewage. We already pay a considerable amount for an operation that big," explained Simms.

County officials have talked about eliminating certain non-essential items all together, like plastic bags and containers.

Other things like bed sheets and shoes, have to be provided. If Simms had it his way, he would ration those items.

"Whether we can do this or not, issue one pair of shoes, one bed sheet, and if they choose to flush it, then they are left barefoot and without bed sheets."

Simms says that's a decision for officials at the jail to make.

"If we can't stop this internally then we may have look at engineering changes."

A new and more advanced filtration system would come at cost of $150,000.

Money some Etowah County taxpayers don't want to be responsible for.

"That's absurd. That that's going to come out of taxpayers money. That's absurd," explained Gadsden shop owner Judy Silvey.

Simms says with a county as small as Etowah, $150,000 is a lot of money. He plans to meet with the jail administrator and the water and sewer board to discuss possible solutions.

Inmates can be punished for the disruptive actions but officials say it can be hard to determine who is doing the damage.

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