Letters

Sewage treatment model flawed

Re: Public opinion wins on sewage (Our View, May 30)

Four years ago the Capital Regional District asked the public which procurement method they preferred and in response well over 90 per cent selected the traditional “Design-Bid-Build” model. Having asked the public what they wanted, the CRD proceeded to do the opposite. They split the plant into two so they could build the biosolids component as a P3 (design-build-operate) and use the “Design-Build” procurement method for the sewage plant.

I found it really unusual when Seaterra announced it had selected a “site specific” design and a builder for the sewage plant when they didn’t have an approved site. But then I read they had selected a consortium that included the same multinational that was responsible for the new Halifax Wastewater Treatment Plant.

That plant lasted less than a year before having a catastrophic failure. In just 20 minutes it was flooded to a depth of over 60 feet, resulting in $11 million in damage and putting it out of service for a year and a half. The post-mortem revealed many problems relating to its design and its lack of “fail-safe systems.”  The P3 and Design-Build models are more prone to this type of outcome.

We are also now seeing a number of municipalities that had bought into the P3 idea, realizing it was not the best choice after all. Port Hardy cancelled a 20-year operating contract for its wastewater plant after 10 years and hired all the contractor’s staff.

Now that the pause button has been pressed, let us also hit the reset button and give serious consideration to proposals like the RITE Plan.  To learn more on what happened in Halifax, Google “How the sewage plant broke.”

James Lloyd

Colwood

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