The Chelan County jail has a major problem with its plumbing system. 

County director of facilities and maintenance Brian Travis says a major overhaul is needed to the Law and Justice building. 

"I just wasn't sure if I stressed how dire the plumbing is in the L&J," said Travis. "We're starting to plan in the Facilities Department about contingency plans. If a main line goes or a main drain goes, we will literally be without water in that building." 

Travis says the plumbing in the jail will have to be completely replaced. 

“We’re literally thinking about where to put outhouses,” Travis said. “It (a plumbing failure) happens, we want to have a plan in place so we can make the calls.” 

A plumbing problem on the level currently hanging over the jail would require many other buildings to be demolished. 

Travis says the jail's design won't require such a drastic move. There's plenty of space in between walls where plumbing is run that allows access for people to move around.  

There's also two-and-a-half feet of space between the hanging ceilings and the actual concrete ceilings in the building. 

Travis met with county commissioners Monday morning, where he said he was consulting with building engineering company McKinstry, which is currently doing a complete plumbing retrofit of a jail of about the same size as the Chelan County building. 

He said McKinstry was working to get ballpark numbers of what it would cost to do the same thing here. He said right now he does not know if it would cost $100,000 or $1 million to complete the work. 

In addition, Travis said replacing the plumbing in the existing building would be worthwhile because it would continue to be used for some purpose even if the county built an entirely new jail. 

He noted the 20-year plan includes a skywalk from the current jail to a new building. 

Travis further noted that other issues with the existing building have been taken care of. 

He said the plumbing and the air conditioning are its two major problems, which can both be fixed. 

Travis said he's planning to make a submission for new plumbing to the county's six-year capital improvements plan in the next year. 

He said the problem with the air conditioning is related to how the sun hits the building which leads to temperatures as high as 89 degrees in some areas, even if the air conditioning is working at maximum capacity. 

Travis said the addition of a hanging façade would alleviate the air conditioning problem. A hanging, or suspended facade is a particular construction system for the outer side of a wall, which makes it possible to reduce heat losses of a building and to protect it from exterior elements, such as excessive sun exposure.

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