State Spending $46,000 a Month on Bottled Water for Prisoners

The Sacramento Bee reports that a Northern California prison is spending $46,000 a month on bottled water for inmates and staff.

Deuel Vocational Institution, just outside Tracy, recently installed a $32 million water treatment plant outside the facility to provide “the cleanest, best water in the state” to the 2,300 inmates and 1,000 employees. However, the 2010 project has not worked as expected, as its brine concentrator is unreliable and difficult to fix.

When the concentrator is down, salts and metals accumulate to such a level that it violates state standards for wastewater discharge.

The recently enacted state budget includes $2 million to begin designing a brine concentration system with a total project cost of $32 million, expected to be completed by 2021.

To deliver water to inmates when the concentration system is down, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has spent $417,000 on bottled water since October.

A maintenance workers’ union representative called the problem a “debacle” that could have easily been solved by keeping more parts on hand to repair the system.

The Bee noted the state corrections department has been fined several times by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board for water discharge problems at the prison since 2014. Last year, the department paid a $2.3 million penalty to resolve the citations.

California Tax Foundation   |   1215 K Street, Sacramento, CA 95814   |   916.441.0490   |