L.A.'s supplier of tap water accounts for more than a third of the city money spent on the bottled variety.

Despite spending $1 million in the last two years to assure Los Angeles residents that their tap water is not only safe to drink but also top quality, city officials spent $88,900 in public money during that time on bottled water from private firms.

The Department of Water and Power, which supplies the city's water and promotes it, spent the most on bottled water, paying $31,160 to Sparklett
"I am stunned," said City Controller Laura Chick, whose office compiled the bills in response to a Public Records Act request from The Times. "This is the same department which spent millions of dollars for public relations promoting themselves and the quality of their drinking water."

The city's use of bottled water comes despite a 1995 directive by former Mayor Richard Riordan that said: "The city's tap water satisfies most needs, and bottled water should not be provided ordinarily at city expense."

As a result of that order, many City Hall offices pay for water coolers with money collected by employees.

The bottled water purchased by the city in the last two years includes water coolers for city offices and small sports bottles for city workers in the field or for the public at special events in hot weather, officials said.

The DWP spends about $500,000 annually to mail a report on the quality of its water to its customers, as required by federal law, according to Jim McDaniel, chief operating officer of the agency's water division.

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