Prison’s leak costs state $220,000

MONROE — The state Department of Corrections has agreed to pay the city for 19 million gallons of water lost through a leaky pipe at its prison complex.

Corrections officials ended four months of wrangling by telling city leaders at a meeting this week that the state would pay the $219,999 bill.

“The first thing out of their mouths was, ‘You’ll have the check for the full amount next week,’ ” said Monroe Mayor Donnetta Walser. “I’m relieved we don’t have to continuing fighting this fight.”

Department spokesman Jeff Weathersby said: “The city convinced the department it was a reasonable request, so we’re paying it.”

The state agency previously paid the city $14,578 to cover costs of finding and repairing the leak.

Rep. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, who attended Tuesday morning’s meeting, called it “a big victory for the community.”

“They finally ‘fessed up and realized they did owe that money to the city and the taxpayers,” he said. “When they make a mistake like that, they need to honor their mistake.”

Walser said the bill is for 19,097,936 gallons that spilled between September 2006 and May 15 this year on the grounds of the Monroe Correctional Complex.

“We know it went on longer than that. This is what we actually documented went through their meter,” she said.

She said the cause was an open valve on a water line. “They were supposed to have closed it off, and they didn’t,” she said.

Weathersby said the leak occurred on a remote part of the property outside the facility’s fenced area.

“Nobody knew water was getting spilled,” he said.

Finding the leak and determining responsibility took a bit of time.

Monroe buys its water from Everett. City officials realized last year there might be a problem when they had to pay more because of a sizable increase in water use.

Walser said they asked Everett to double-check its records then set out to track the source.

“We were going crazy trying to find it,” she said. “What was so mystifying is the amount was so enormous that you should have been able to see it.”

Farmers found it, she said, notifying the city of a new pond of water on the prison property. Further investigation led to discovery and repair of the leak.

Since May, the city has sought payment from the state for the water.

Walser said the agency initially refused to pay until receiving documentation of its responsibility.

Weathersby said the agency wanted information on whether Monroe’s taxpayers would bear the burden of paying for the water. Once it became clear they would, agency officials made the decision to pay.

Walser said the city had tapped reserves in its water fund to cover the higher costs. Water rates would have been increased to replenish those reserves if a resolution had not been reached, she said.

This isn’t the first financial dispute between the city and the Department of Corrections.

In 2004, the city sought $218,000 from the state prison to cover its share of police and fire services to the correctional center. The state eventually paid.

Also that year, an agreement was reached for the state prison to pay a higher water rate for usage at the complex.

Reporter Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623 or

Talk to us

More in Local News

Emergency responders surround an ultralight airplane that crashed Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, at the Arlington Municipal Airport in Arlington, Washington, resulting in the pilot's death. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Pilot dead in ultralight plane crash at Arlington Municipal Airport

There were no other injuries or fatalities reported, a city spokesperson said.

An example of the Malicious Women Co. products (left) vs. the Malicious Mermaid's products (right). (U.S. District Court in Florida)
Judge: Cheeky candle copycat must pay Snohomish company over $800K

The owner of the Malicious Women Co. doesn’t expect to receive any money from the Malicious Mermaid, a Florida-based copycat.

A grave marker for Blaze the horse. (Photo provided)
After Darrington woman’s horse died, she didn’t know what to do

Sidney Montooth boarded her horse Blaze. When he died, she was “a wreck” — and at a loss as to what to do with his remains.

A fatal accident the afternoon of Dec. 18 near Clinton ended with one of the cars involved bursting into flames. The driver of the fully engulfed car was outside of the vehicle by the time first responders arrived at the scene. (Whidbey News-Times/Submitted photo)
Driver sentenced in 2021 crash that killed Everett couple

Danielle Cruz, formerly of Lynnwood, gets 17½ years in prison. She was impaired by drugs when she caused the crash that killed Sharon Gamble and Kenneth Weikle.

A person walks out of the Everett Clinic on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The Everett Clinic changing name to parent company Optum in 2024

The parent company says the name change will not affect quality of care for patients in Snohomish County.

Tirhas Tesfatsion (GoFundMe) 20210727
Lynnwood settles for $1.7 million after 2021 suicide at city jail

Jail staff reportedly committed 16 safety check violations before they found Tirhas Tesfatsion, 47, unresponsive in her cell.

A person walks in the rain at the Port of Everett in Everett, Washington on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
First heavy rain event predicted Sunday night for Snohomish County

Starting Sunday evening, 1 to 1½ inches of rain is expected in western Washington. It marks the end of fire season, meteorologists said.

Clinton man, 61, dies in motorcycle crash Friday

Washington State Patrol lists speed as the cause. No other people or vehicles were involved.

Inside the new Boeing 737 simulator at Simulation Flight in Mukilteo, Washington on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
New Boeing 737 simulator takes ‘flight’ in Mukilteo

Pilots can test their flying skills or up their game at Simulation Flight in Mukilteo.

Most Read