LAO 2006-07 Budget Analysis: Capitol Outlay

Analysis of the 2006-07 Budget Bill

Legislative Analyst's Office
February 2006

Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (5225)

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) operates 33 adult prisons, 8 youthful offender facilities, 43 fire and conservation camps, and 1 youth camp. Approximately 168,000 men, women, and youths are imprisoned in these facilities. The CDCR facilities comprise about 3,000 structures with 37†million gross square feet of building space. The CDCR also contracts for a variety of community-based services including 12 community correctional facilities, five prisoner-mother facilities, and various community reentry programs. In 2005, CDCR opened one new prison, the Kern Valley State Prison at Delano II.

For 2006-07, the budget requests $223.8†million for CDCRís capital outlay program, including $123.8†million from the General Fund and $100†million from the Public Buildings Construction Fund. The proposed funding includes:

Withhold Recommendation on CCC Wastewater Treatment Plant Modification

The California Correctional Center wastewater treatment plant modifications go far beyond the consultantís assessment of the necessary repairs. We withhold recommendation on the $1.5†million (General Fund) to prepare preliminary plans until the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation submits information showing the expanded scope of the project is necessary.

Consultant Assessment of CCC Wastewater. In February 2004, CDCR-hired consultants released a final assessment on the condition of the wastewater treatment plant at the California Correctional Center (CCC) in Susanville. The report lays out potential improvements that CDCR could undertake to ensure that the wastewater treatment plant is adequately cleaning the water before it is discharged. The reportís recommendations for improvement also discuss how the facility can ensure sufficient wastewater treatment capacity. These improvements include installing effluent flow metering, replacement of effluent pumps, installing concrete lining for sedimentation ponds, replacing bar screens, replacing floating aerators, and constructing drying beds for pond solids. The consultant estimated in 2004 that the necessary repairs would cost the department $2.6†million.

Proposal for Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvements. The Governorís budget includes $1.5†million in General Fund to prepare preliminary plans for CCC wastewater treatment plant modifications. The future cost of the project would be $20.4†million. The proposal includes installation of new screening mechanisms, construction of secondary treatment ponds, storage ponds, effluent irrigation land, solids-handling equipment, and an emergency generator. The wastewater project goes far beyond the recommendations in the consultant report and includes expansion of capacity not identified in the consultantís assessment.

Withhold Recommendation Until Receive More Information. The proposal does not address why the consultantís recommendations were deemed insufficient to address CCCís wastewater problems and that a project of significantly larger scope and cost is warranted. Thus, we withhold recommendation until the department submits evidence showing that implementing only the consultantís recommendations would be insufficient for improving CCCís wastewater treatment.

Withhold Recommendation on Chuckawalla Wastewater Treatment Plant

We withhold recommendation on the $455,000 (General Fund) for preliminary plans for the Chuckawalla wastewater treatment plant until the Regional Water Quality Control Board issues its decision on the discharge permit in March†2006.

The Governorís budget includes $455,000 in General Fund to prepare preliminary plans for a Chuckawalla Valley State Prison (CVSP) wastewater treatment plant renovation. The CVSP is currently out of compliance with its wastewater discharge permit due to discharging water that is not sufficiently clean. The project would replace worn equipment, and allow CVSP to treat its wastewater to the maximum level that the facility was designed to remove impurities from the water. However, even with fully functioning equipment, CVSP wastewater treatment plant would not meet the standards for water discharge cleanliness.

The Regional Water Quality Control Board is currently considering CVSPís request for a less restrictive wastewater discharge permit. The board is expected to announce its decision in March†2006. If the board rejects CVSPís request, the scope of the wastewater treatment plant project could be significantly larger and with higher cost. Accordingly, we withhold recommendation on CVSP wastewater treatment plant project until the board issues its decision.

Fund Only Working Drawings for DVI Wastewater Facility

We recommend reducing $23†million (General Fund) for construction of a wastewater treatment facility at the Deuel Vocational Institute. This is because the estimated date for completing working drawings of the facility is overly optimistic, and funding for construction can wait until 2007-08. (Reduce Item 5225-301-0001[7] by $22,979,000.)

Scope of the Project. The Governorís budget includes $24.3†million in General Fund to prepare working drawings and construct a new wastewater treatment facility at Deuel Vocational Institute (DVI) in Tracy. The new wastewater treatment facility would address current discharge violations and bring the facility into compliance with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit by the compliance deadline of March†1, 2008. The scope of the project is large, and would install at DVI a generally accepted wastewater treatment method with a membrane bioreactor, influent pumping station, cooling towers, ultraviolet light disinfection equipment, equipment for water extraction from bio-solids, new operations and maintenance buildings, and new electrical service and distribution gear.

Preliminary Plans for Project Not Yet Complete. The original project estimation stated that the preliminary plans would be complete in May 2006. According to the department, preliminary plans for the new wastewater treatment plant will not be ready for Public Works Board approval until June 2006. The rest of the project cannot move forward until the Public Works Board approves the preliminary plans.

Working Drawings Initially Projected to Take Eight Months. The department projects that the working drawings will be completed as early as January 2007. This would allow only six months for the preparation of working drawings. However, a September 2004 consultantĎs project estimate stated that the working drawings phase would take eight months to complete. Given this estimate, it is not clear how the department plans to shorten the working drawings phase by one-fourth of the time.

Working Drawings Frequently Late for Large-Scale Projects. Our review of a number of large-scale CDCR projects funded over the last five years shows that for construction projects such as a new wastewater treatment plant or a large air-conditioning system, preparation of working drawings has generally taken the department considerably longer than six months. In fact, the projects reviewed all took 12 months or longer to have working drawings completed. Furthermore, our review shows that the working drawings for these projects were completed between three and 11 months late from the projected original completion date. Based on the departmentís past records, we think that the departmentís estimate of January 2007 to complete working drawings of DVI wastewater treatment plant is overly optimistic. These drawings would likely not be complete until late 2006-07 or early 2007-08. Thus, it would be reasonable to fund only the working drawings for the project in 2006-07 and provide funding for construction in 2007-08. Accordingly, we recommend $23†million request for project construction be deleted for 2006-07.

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