Kings County Jail cutting water use amid drought

KINGS COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Kings County Jail is using programmable toilets and showers to save water. It's an effort to keep inmates from being wasteful and help the county survive the drought.

In Kings County, every flush behind bars is on a timer. "Right now, we're at six seconds," added Assistant Sheriff Robert Thayer.

Every six-second flush is followed by a two-minute reset to keep inmates from wasting water. "Every two minutes, you can re-flush it; we're looking to expand that to five minutes," Thayer said.

Thayer is the assistant sheriff in charge of the jail. He's not sure how much water the jail uses but he knows there's roughly 500 inmates and 180 toilets in the cells. He said, "So you can see what the impact of water usage would be over an extended period of time."

The showers and sinks are also on timers. Urinals in the staff bathrooms can't flush at all. Thayer says it's all part of the jail's water conservation plan to help the county meet state mandated cuts. Hanford alone has to find ways to reduce water by 28 percent. In Lemoore, it's 32 percent and in Corcoran, it's 36 percent.

The sheriff's department is also cutting back on the outside. A new section of the jail is under construction, with no plans for grass, and vehicles are collecting dust, only getting washed twice a week. "That was one of the areas we could cut immediately, because we use to wash five times a week," Thayer said.

The sheriff's department plans to install low-flow shower heads and other water-saving equipment in the new section of the jail. Construction should be finished in February or March of 2016.

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