County water and sewer contracts will require preferred brands

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By Brian Slattery

Contractors who want to work on Brunswick County’s water and sewer projects will now work off a preferred brands performance list.

Engineering director Bill Pinnix updated board members at the Nov. 19 Brunswick County meeting on the county staff’s effort to comply with state law.

The preferred brands list ensures key components of water and sewer projects are standardized,” Pinnix said.

“We still want to foster competition, but we also want to keep our costs down. Water and sewer became a complex issue, but if we comply with General Statute 133-3, it will lower costs.”

Pinnix said county staff has already begun using preferred brands in county requirements, but needed a presentation to the county board and a vote of approval to document their compliance.

G.S. 133-3 requires “performance standards for the preference must be approved in advance by the owner in an open meeting.”  

To require preferred brands on public construction and repair contracts, the state law requires advanced approval by the water and sewer system—Brunswick County—in an open meeting. A written justification for preferred brands must also be available to the public. 

The list will limit the number of brands for certain utility system components to a specific number of manufacturers.

“It is not a sole source list,” Pinnix said, meaning the county won’t designate a particular brand must be used, but the product must meet a standard. Brand names can be included, but technical specifications will also make up the list.

As an example, Pinnix said if the county has a capital improvement project up for bid, when the contractor bids on it, the bid must include items designated on the preferred brands list.

County commissioner Scott Phillips was encouraged by the plan to establish a standard.

“It’s a good plan. It will save us money in the long run. It gives contractors an idea what we are looking for,” he said.

Pinnix added the preferred brands list will be “a living document”—as standards and technologies advance, the county will ensure the list includes those upgrades.

Pinnix said the county’s engineering department and utilities department will work together to maintain the list.

The county manager will also have approval on editorial revisions, he added.

Commissioners also added a designation that major issues to be added to the product and specifications list should be brought before the board, while minor issues, like swapping an old product with its updated replacement, could be handled by staff.

Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve the preferred brands standard with no further discussion.


Brian Slattery is a staff writer for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or bslattery@brunswickbeacon.com.