B-58031, JUNE 28, 1946, 25 COMP. GEN. 920

B-58031: Jun 28, 1946

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PURCHASES - DRINKING WATER WHERE THE ONLY AVAILABLE WATER SUPPLY AT A GOVERNMENT ACTIVITY LOCATED AT AN OUT-OF-THE-WAY PLACE WAS INTERRUPTED BY LEAKS IN THE PIPE LINE. AS FOLLOWS: TRANSMITTED HEREWITH ARE TWO VOUCHERS IN THE AMOUNTS OF $2.70 AND $25.10 DATED DECEMBER 28. PURCHASE OF THE DRINKING WATER WAS MADE BY THE COMMISSION'S SUPERVISOR WHEN THE 1500 FOOT PIPE LINE WHICH PROVIDED WATER TO THE WORKING QUARTERS DEVELOPED NUMEROUS LEAKS AND PRECLUDED MAINTENANCE OF THE PROPER PRESSURE TO ASSURE WATER AT ALL TIMES. IT IS DESIRED TO BRING TO YOUR ATTENTION PARAGRAPH 6 OF LEASE BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND THE LESSOR. THE COMMISSION IS FULLY COGNIZANT OF DECISIONS RENDERED BY YOUR OFFICE RELATIVE TO PURCHASES OF DRINKING WATER WHEREIN THE AVAILABLE SUPPLY WAS NOT CONSIDERED DESIRABLE FOR CONSUMPTION BECAUSE OF A DISAGREEABLE TASTE.

B-58031, JUNE 28, 1946, 25 COMP. GEN. 920

PURCHASES - DRINKING WATER WHERE THE ONLY AVAILABLE WATER SUPPLY AT A GOVERNMENT ACTIVITY LOCATED AT AN OUT-OF-THE-WAY PLACE WAS INTERRUPTED BY LEAKS IN THE PIPE LINE, THE EMERGENCY PURCHASE OF DRINKING WATER AND A COOLER DISPENSER FOR THE USE OF EMPLOYEES MAY BE REGARDED AS HAVING BEEN NECESSARY FROM THE GOVERNMENT'S STANDPOINT AND PAYABLE FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL YATES TO T. J. SLOWIE, FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION, JUNE 28, 1946:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN YOUR LETTER OF MAY 3, 1946, AS FOLLOWS:

TRANSMITTED HEREWITH ARE TWO VOUCHERS IN THE AMOUNTS OF $2.70 AND $25.10 DATED DECEMBER 28, 1945, AND APRIL 15, 1946, PAYABLE TO FOX WATER COMPANY, 675-37TH STREET, OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA TO COVER PAYMENT OF EMERGENCY PURCHASES OF DRINKING WATER ALSO ONE WATER COOLER DISPENSER FOR USE OF COMMISSION PERSONNEL EMPLOYED AT THE SAN LEANDRO, CALIFORNIA MONITORING STATION.

PURCHASE OF THE DRINKING WATER WAS MADE BY THE COMMISSION'S SUPERVISOR WHEN THE 1500 FOOT PIPE LINE WHICH PROVIDED WATER TO THE WORKING QUARTERS DEVELOPED NUMEROUS LEAKS AND PRECLUDED MAINTENANCE OF THE PROPER PRESSURE TO ASSURE WATER AT ALL TIMES.

IT IS DESIRED TO BRING TO YOUR ATTENTION PARAGRAPH 6 OF LEASE BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND THE LESSOR, BROADMOOR IMPROVEMENT COMPANY, RC-5639, "TO THE EXTENT OF ANY SURPLUS WATER AVAILABLE IN LESSORS' TANK, GOVERNMENT MAY TAKE WATER FOR DRINKING PURPOSES ONLY, BUT WITHOUT OBLIGATION ON LESSOR TO PRODUCE OR FURNISH WATER OR TO MAINTAIN ITS WELL, PUMPING PLANT AND TANK.'

THE COMMISSION IS FULLY COGNIZANT OF DECISIONS RENDERED BY YOUR OFFICE RELATIVE TO PURCHASES OF DRINKING WATER WHEREIN THE AVAILABLE SUPPLY WAS NOT CONSIDERED DESIRABLE FOR CONSUMPTION BECAUSE OF A DISAGREEABLE TASTE; HOWEVER, PURCHASES IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE TEND TO REFLECT AN EMERGENCY DUE TO FAILURE OF THE ONLY WATER SOURCE ON THE PREMISES, THEREFORE IT IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED THAT PAYMENT OF THE VOUCHERS BE CONSIDERED ON THIS BASIS.

THE GENERAL RULE REGARDING THE PURCHASE OF DRINKING WATER IS SET FORTH IN 5 COMP. GEN. 53, AS FOLLOWS (QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS):

AS THERE IS NO DUTY OR OBLIGATION UPON THE UNITED STATES TO FURNISH DRINKING WATER TO EMPLOYEES NOT ENTITLED TO SUBSISTENCE AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER A SUITABLE SUPPLY IS OR IS NOT AVAILABLE WITHOUT CHARGE, THE PURCHASE OF DRINKING WATER AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE FOR USE IN OFFICES WITHOUT SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE AS TO THE NECESSITY THEREFOR FROM THE GOVERNMENT'S STANDPOINT AS DISTINGUISHED FROM THE NEEDS OR PREFERENCES OF THE EMPLOYEES, IS NOT AUTHORIZED IN THE ABSENCE OF A SPECIFIC PROVISION IN THE APPROPRIATION INVOLVED PROVIDING FOR SUCH PURCHASE. SEE, ALSO, 5 COMP. GEN. 90; 17 ID. 698; 18 ID. 238; 24 ID. 56.

HOWEVER, IN THIS CASE, IT APPEARS THAT WHEN THE 1,500 FOOT PIPE LINE PROVIDING WATER TO THE WORKING QUARTERS DEVELOPED LEAKS, NO OTHER WATER WAS AVAILABLE ON THE PREMISES, AND SINCE THE SAN LEANDRO, CALIFORNIA, MONITORING STATION APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN LOCATED IN AN OUT-OF-THE-WAY PLACE, IT MAY BE ASSUMED THAT NO DRINKING WATER WAS AVAILABLE WITHIN A REASONABLE DISTANCE THEREOF. UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, THE PURCHASE OF DRINKING WATER AND A WATER COOLER DISPENSER APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN NECESSARY FROM THE GOVERNMENT'S STANDPOINT AND THE VOUCHERS MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT, IF OTHERWISE CORRECT. THE VOUCHERS ARE RETURNED HEREWITH.