Battle ensues over CA water safety tasks

SACRAMENTO, CA: Two California firms are still head-to-head after competing in turbulent RFPs for major government contracts addressing storm water pollution.

SACRAMENTO, CA: Two California firms are still head-to-head after competing in turbulent RFPs for major government contracts addressing storm water pollution.

The County of Los Angeles has tentatively awarded a $4.15 million, three-year contract to Ogilvy PR's Sacramento office for a storm water/urban runoff public-education program. The task would focus on reducing pollution in the storm-water drainage system from consumer activities such as fertilizer runoff and illegal dumping of paint and motor oil into street gutters - a major problem in the state, where pollutants in the drainage system travel directly into water sources without being treated.

Ogilvy replaces incumbent LA-based Rogers & Associates, which had held a $5 million, five-year contract with the county, according to Rogers president Lynne Doll. The Ogilvy contract is expected to be ratified by the board of supervisors next week.

Also last week, the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) issued a notice of intent to award a $5 million, two-year storm-water campaign to Rogers, but Ogilvy has filed a protest to block the deal.

Five other firms pitched for the job. Ogilvy was in the lead, but was edged by Rogers when the latter was given a 5% handicap for qualifying as a small business, according to Tom Mays, SWRCB manager of education and public outreach programs. Ogilvy's protest centers on whether the handicap was rightfully applied, and whether Rogers qualifies as a small business.

Both contracts are considered important pieces of business in California, where budget troubles have put many state contracts on hold. The funding for the water boards' project, however, comes from a levy on polluters, and is not impacted by cuts to the general fund.

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