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Cash should flow for water upgrades

Patricia Williams

An expert panel’s call for a massive capital investment in the province’s water and wastewater systems has received a thumbs-up from industry associations.

Water and Sewer

$30B needed over 15 years, panel says

An expert panel’s call for a massive capital investment in the province’s water and wastewater systems has received a thumbs-up from industry associations.

“We are pleased to see that the panel has acknowledged the significant investments that are critical for the sustainability of Ontario’s water and sewage systems,” said Kathleen Grimes, president of the Ontario Sewer and Watermain Construction Association.

“Addressing the infrastructure deficit would be a major step forward in enhancing the safety and long-term sustainability of this province’s vast underground network of clean water pipelines and sewage systems.” Ontario’s Water Strategy Expert Panel reported Friday that the province’s water systems will require more than $30 billion in capital investments over the next 15 years to remedy decades of neglect.

The panel, which conducted a year-long, in-depth examination of Ontario’s water infrastructure, called for significant changes in the way the water and wastewater systems are organized, governed and regulated.

It has recommended a comprehensive set of proposals for correcting the situation and ensuring the safety, affordability and long-term financial sustainability of Ontario’s water and wastewater systems in the coming decades.

“The fact is that governments, both municipally and provincially, have neglected essential investments in the province’s water systems for the past 30 years,” said panel chair Harry Swain.

“That, combined with our growing population and economy, means we’re going to have some serious catching-up to do over the coming years if we want to maintain the level of safe, accessible, affordable water we all take for granted.

“Larger water systems will provide the scale to make the large capital investments that are necessary and do so at a cost that’s much more affordable,” said Swain, former chair of the Walkerton Research Advisory Panel.

The board was commissioned by Public Infrastructure Renewal Minister David Caplan in August 2004 to determine the best ways to organize systems and deliver safe, clean affordable water and wastewater services in the province while ensuring continued public ownership of these systems.

The report also was endorsed by the Ontario Water Works Association (OWWA) and the Ontario Municipal Water Association.

Joe Salter, chair of the OWWA, said the report is a “significant milestone” in achieving sustainability of water systems.

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