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Replacing Office Water Coolers Poses Problem for City of Santa Monica


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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Staff

July 26, 2017 -- As befits a City as environmentally progressive as Santa Monica, bottle-less water coolers are leased for 44 City offices, providing workers with better filtration as well as sparing waste-making production of the old-fashioned lumbering plastic bottles, which eventually end up in landfills.

Now, if only the City could find a provider which meets specifications.

On Tuesday, the City Council followed staff's recommendation to reject the sole bid it received for providing the bottle-less coolers and maintaining them. The company was not able to meet prevailing wage law requirements.

Staff wants to revise the specifications.

Under state law (SB854), contractors working on construction and maintenance of public facilities and infrastructure over a set dollar limit must be registered with California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) as a contractor who "employs licensed plumbers.”

The contractor must also pay prevailing wages.

“The current market of companies that lease, install and maintain water coolers are not registered as contractors, do not employ licensed plumbers and do not pay prevailing wage rates,” a report from Finance Director Gigi Decavalles-Hughes to the council said.

The new bid could solicit proposals with different options, including a “turn-key solution that would require a licensed contractor complying with prevailing wage requirements to be responsible for the delivery, installation and maintenance of the water coolers,” she said.

The City also could opt to provide the water coolers and contract out the service to provide the installation and maintenance, Decavalles-Hughes said.

The City started hunting for a company to handle its bottle-less water cooler needs in May and published Notices Inviting Bids.

The bid was posted on the City’s on-line bidding site, and notices were advertised in the local press in accordance with City Charter and Municipal Code provisions.

Of the 262 vendors notified, 102 downloaded the bid but only one bid was submitted. The bid, however, did not meet the prevailing wage specification.

Non-bottle coolers are viewed as better for the environment, because their bottle-top counterparts are wasteful and expensive, officials said.

Environmentalists say that production of those big lumbering bottles eats up 140 million kilowatt hours of electricity, burns 6 million gallons of fuel and dumps 70 million pounds of plastic waste into landfills a year.


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