B-119481, APR 8, 1954

B-119481: Apr 8, 1954

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AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 25. IN THE AMOUNT OF $1 AS REIMBURSEMENT FOR THAT AMOUNT EXPENDED BY HIM FROM HIS PERSONAL FUNDS FOR DRINKING WATER WHICH WAS PURCHASED DURING THE PERIOD OCTOBER 21 TO DECEMBER 23. YOU STATE THAT THIS IS NOT AN ISOLATED CASE BUT THAT YOU HAVE THE PROBLEM ARISING FROM TIME TO TIME. THAT THE PUBLIC SUPPLY OF WATER IN OVERTON IS NOT FIT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION. THAT WITH VERY FEW EXCEPTIONS IT IS NOT USED BY THE NATIVES OF THAT TOWN EXCEPT FOR THE PURPOSE OF IRRIGATION. THAT PRACTICALLY ALL OF THE DRINKING WATER IN OVERTON IS TRANSPORTED BY RAIL FROM LAS VEGAS. WHERE IT IS PLACED IN A HOLDING TANK AND SOLD AT THE PRICE OF TEN CENTS FOR FIVE GALLONS.

B-119481, APR 8, 1954

PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE

MR. E. A. RONNING, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 25, 1954, TRANSMITTING A VOUCHER STATED IN FAVOR OF LURRELL E. EVANS, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE, IN THE AMOUNT OF $1 AS REIMBURSEMENT FOR THAT AMOUNT EXPENDED BY HIM FROM HIS PERSONAL FUNDS FOR DRINKING WATER WHICH WAS PURCHASED DURING THE PERIOD OCTOBER 21 TO DECEMBER 23, 1953, FOR USE IN THE SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE OFFICE AT OVERTON, NEVADA, AND REQUESTING A DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE VOUCHER MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT. YOU STATE THAT THIS IS NOT AN ISOLATED CASE BUT THAT YOU HAVE THE PROBLEM ARISING FROM TIME TO TIME.

IT APPEARS FROM A REPORT OF NOVEMBER 2, 1953, OF THE CLARK COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT, LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, AND A REPORT OF DECEMBER 23, 1953, OF THE STATE CONSERVATIONIST, APPARENTLY OF YOUR OFFICE, THAT THE PUBLIC SUPPLY OF WATER IN OVERTON IS NOT FIT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION; THAT WITH VERY FEW EXCEPTIONS IT IS NOT USED BY THE NATIVES OF THAT TOWN EXCEPT FOR THE PURPOSE OF IRRIGATION; AND THAT PRACTICALLY ALL OF THE DRINKING WATER IN OVERTON IS TRANSPORTED BY RAIL FROM LAS VEGAS, WHERE IT IS PLACED IN A HOLDING TANK AND SOLD AT THE PRICE OF TEN CENTS FOR FIVE GALLONS. FURTHER APPEARS FROM THE STATE CONSERVATIONIST'S REPORT THAT, IN THE CASE OF SOME OF THE EMPLOYEES IN YOUR OFFICE, THE USE OF THE PUBLIC SUPPLY OF WATER HAS AN ALMOST IMMEDIATE ILL EFFECT ON THE STOMACH. ALSO, VARIOUS REPORTS OF THE NEVADA STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH INDICATE THE TOWN'S PUBLIC WATER SUPPLY CONTAINS HARMFUL BACTERIA AND THE PRESENCE OF COLON BACILLUS.

THE VOUCHER IS STATED FOR PAYMENT UNDER THE APPROPRIATION FOR SALARIES AND EXPENSES, SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE, 67 STAT. 214, WHICH CONTAINS NO SPECIFIC PROVISION FOR THE PURCHASE OF DRINKING WATER. IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT THE PURCHASE OF DRINKING WATER UNDER AN APPROPRIATION WHICH CONTAINS NO SUCH PROVISION IS AUTHORIZED ONLY WHERE IT IS SHOWN TO BE A NECESSITY FROM THE GOVERNMENT'S STANDPOINT TO MAINTAIN A SUPPLY OF DRINKING WATER IN THE OFFICE INVOLVED AND NO OTHER WATER FIT FOR DRINKING PURPOSES IS AVAILABLE FOR SAID OFFICE WITHOUT CHARGE OR AT A LOWER COST. 18 COMP.GEN. 238; 28 ID. 627.

IN THE PRESENT CASE, IT APPEARS THAT THE PUBLIC WATER SUPPLY WAS NOT FIT FOR CONSUMPTION. ALSO, IN VIEW OF THE PRICE CHARGED FOR THE WATER PURCHASED, IT MAY BE ASSUMED THAT NO OTHER WATER FIT FOR DRINKING PURPOSES WAS AVAILABLE AT A LOWER COST. HOWEVER, IT IS WELL SETTLED THAT NO PERSON IS AUTHORIZED TO MAKE HIMSELF A VOLUNTARY CREDITOR OF THE UNITED STATES BY INCURRING AND PAYING OBLIGATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES WHICH HE IS NOT LEGALLY REQUIRED OR AUTHORIZED TO INCUR OR PAY AND REIMBURSEMENT THEREFOR GENERALLY IS NOT AUTHORIZED. SEE 31 U.S.C.A. 665; 2 COMP.GEN. 581; 3 ID. 70; ID. 633; 7 ID. 104; 8 ID. 627; 18 ID. 424.

HOWEVER, CONSIDERING ALL THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND THE VERY SMALL AMOUNT INVOLVED, THE VOUCHER MAY IN THIS INSTANCE BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT TO MR. EVANS, IF OTHERWISE PROPER. BUT THIS IS NOT TO BE CONSIDERED AS A PRECEDENT AUTHORIZING THE PROCUREMENT OF WATER BY AN EMPLOYEE ADVANCING ITS COST FROM HIS PERSONAL FUNDS, AND SHOULD IT CONTINUE TO BE NECESSARY TO PURCHASE DRINKING WATER FOR THE OFFICE, IT SHOULD BE PROCURED THROUGH REGULAR ADMINISTRATIVE CHANNELS.

THE VOUCHER AND RELATED PAPERS ARE RETURNED HEREWITH.