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Water pipes burst at Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden in two recent incidents, and a county legislator is questioning whether the prison's security system could be affected by the water leaks.

Public Works Commissioner John C. Loffredo said poor contracting work 10 or more years ago is responsible.

He said he is still determining the costs of repairs.

The leaks became public after Legislator Dale W. Larson, R-West Seneca, filed a resolution last week questioning whether the jail's electronic security system could be affected and asking for immediate repairs.

"My concern is that during these breaks there was water gushing out in the hallways," Larson said. "The prisoners actually helped clean up."

He said he wants reassurance that the leaks cannot jeopardize the security system at the prison, a medium-security facility for 400 inmates.

Debate is expected before the Legislature's Public Safety Committee.

Jail Superintendent Frederick Netzel said Friday that he also worried about the security system and pulled down the ceiling of the control room to make certain water would not meet wiring. He said security is not endangered and denied there was a flood.

"Officers and inmates controlled the water with towels and mops," he said. "We probably used well over a hundred towels."

"We didn't have to move inmates," Netzel said. "Nobody was hurt. We just had to shut water down until the engineers could reconnect the pipes."

Loffredo said joints that connect the pipes must be replaced.

"When you have two dissimilar metals, one will sacrifice and spring a leak," he said. "We're going to have to go in and expose it all, cut out sections of pipes and install new unions."

Larson said he also is seeking repairs as soon as possible for water leaking through an outside electrical conduit and into the wheelchair recharge room in the Erie County Home. The home is across the street from the correctional facility on Walden Avenue.

Charles F. Komurek, director of the home, said repairs will be done soon.

Komurek said 30 to 40 wheelchairs are recharged daily in the room, which is not used by residents.

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