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California’s corrections department is spending $46,000 a month to buy bottled water for inmates and staff at a prison in Tracy where it opened a state-of-the-art water treatment plant eight years ago.
Deuel Vocational Institution draws water from brackish wells on its grounds and runs it through a two-step treatment process before providing it to 2,300 inmates and 1,000 employees for drinking or for showers.
News reports on the 2010 unveiling of a $32 million water treatment plant characterized the department as providing the cleanest, best water in the state to prison inmates.
The article goes on to state the following:
But a key component of the high-tech plant did not work as intended. Its brine concentrator, which brings the water up to drinking standards, is unreliable and difficult to fix.
When it’s down, salts and metals can accumulate to such a level that the prison violates state standards for wastewater discharge.
The new state budget includes $2 million for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to begin designing a brine concentration system. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $32 million, according to the department’s budget request.
If all goes as planned, the department projects it’ll be up and running by 2021.
In the meantime, the department must provide bottled water to inmates and staff whenever the brine concentration system is down to comply with an order from the Central Valley Regional Water Control Board. It’s been offline most of the time since October, and the department has spent $417,000 on bottled water since then.
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