Natural Resources and Environment:

Health and Safety Deficiencies Found at Water Recreation Areas

CED-81-88: Published: Jun 15, 1981. Publicly Released: Jul 15, 1981.

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GAO was requested to review the health and safety conditions of nonfederally managed water recreation areas of the Corps of Engineers' and the Water and Power Resources Service's (WPRS) reservoirs.

GAO found several types of health and safety deficiencies at the Corps and WPRS areas. These included: (1) poorly designed, overused, or malfunctioning sanitation systems; (2) structurally unsafe picnic and restroom facilities; (3) a dam spillway without a barrier; and (4) inadequate disinfection or filtration systems and excessive bacteria or turbidity levels in drinking water. Corps and WPRS headquarters recreation management officials stated that regular and thorough inspections are not conducted nor are local managing officials directed to make needed improvements. These officials stated that funding constraints make it difficult to effectively monitor the condition of nonfederally managed recreation areas. Nonfederal public agencies' officials acknowledged responsibility for operating and maintaining recreation areas in a safe and healthy condition but stated that they lacked adequate funds. These officials claim that operation and maintenance costs and visitor use have increased over the years but that recreation budgets have not kept pace. As a result, nonfederal agencies have turned over management of a number of areas to the federal agencies.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Interior and the Army should regularly and thoroughly inspect nonfederally managed Corps and WPRS recreation areas to identify health and safety deficiencies and require the managing agency to correct the identified deficiencies, post the areas as unsafe, or close them.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congress failed to act on the recreation fee legislation submitted by Interior for fiscal year 1986.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Interior and the Army should seek necessary funds and authority from Congress to close or improve, operate, and maintain returned recreation areas and those service areas that were never turned over to a local manager.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Corps' policy calls for closure of facilities unless alternatives can be found.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Interior and the Army should seek necessary funds and authority from Congress to close or improve, operate, and maintain returned recreation areas and those service areas that were never turned over to a local manager.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Interior and the Army should review the status of returned recreation areas to determine whether areas with health and safety deficiencies should be improved, operated and maintained, posted as unsafe, or closed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Interior and the Army should review the status of returned recreation areas to determine whether areas with health and safety deficiencies should be improved, operated and maintained, posted as unsafe, or closed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Interior and the Army should regularly and thoroughly inspect nonfederally managed Corps and WPRS recreation areas to identify health and safety deficiencies and require the managing agency to correct the identified deficiencies, post the areas as unsafe, or close them.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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