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City Increases Spending on Bottled Water: $184,000 Spent in '08

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Photo by רן יניב הרטשטיין via Flickr

Photo by רן יניב הרטשטיין via Flickr
Back in 2004 and 2005, the city of Los Angeles spent a total of $88,000 total over the two year span on bottled water as it spent one million promoting that their tap water is safe and top quality. Fast forward to 2008 and records show that the city spent $184,000 in just one year--that's an $140,000 increase, or four times more, after public outcry and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa telling departments to cut it out.

“When my findings were made public, the Mayor took immediate action to clamp down on the purchase of drinking water from private firms. Unfortunately, we have found that some Departments ignored the Mayor’s memo and a few actually have increased their spending,” said City Controller Laura Chick, whose office completed the study.

The biggest spenders included Public Works ($69,696), Airports ($31,429), Police ($19,708), General Services ($19,508), Transportation $14,595 and Harbor ($11,993). By contrast, Public Works spent around $22,000 total over two years in 2004 and 2005. The LAPD spent $1,466.44 and General Services spent $2,500 in the same time period.

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A handful of departments stopped buying water all together including the Fire Department, Community Development Department, Commission on Children Youth
and Families,, Housing, Library, Neighborhood Empowerment and Personnel.

The irony of the report a few years ago was that the city's own water producer, the Department of Water & Power was drinking $7,500 worth of Sparkletts instead of their own water. To their credit, in 2008, they dropped that amount to $3,419, which is still a considerable amount of water. “Some Departments may be distributing small bottles to attendees at public events," Chick explained. "However, the City Departments can easily arrange for the DWP to supply coolers of drinking water at a low cost. Not only is this more cost effective, it is certainly more environmentally friendly."