Wednesday, 19 June 2013

WWTP Petition - Red Herring?

Good morning Regina!

I had a very long, interesting discussion with Rob Court yesterday, at the Design Regina information session, regarding the Wastewater Treatment Plant. At the time, I wasn't aware of exactly who he was, or what role he played, but now that I've had some time to digest what he told me in person, and reviewed online, there are some very serious issues that I have with what he has told me in person, and what is in previous media reports. Mr. Court is a Senior Engineer at the City of Regina, and has been working on the WWTP for some time now. He has been with the City of Regina for two years, and ten years with the City of Saskatoon prior to that.

This article, in particular, is where I have a major concern. While the WWTP Petitioners are focused on the P3 aspect of things, and kudos to them for doing that, the reality is that, according to my research, I still stand behind my statement that we DO NOT require a $230M+ new facility. Why am I being so bold to say that? Well, read the article, "There's Something In the Water" In particular, according to Rob Court himself, we "meet and exceed our permit to operate". I've been saying this for over a year now. The major focus for the City of Regina, that Mr. Court suggested to me in person, is that of Nitrogen, Ammonia and Phosphate being released into Wascana Creek. The question becomes: Is a BRAND NEW FACILITY really necessary to address these relatively minor issues (when you compare it to the overall situation)? Consider that the current facility itself is anywhere between 30 and 50 years old, depending on which part you look at. Consider even further that a majority of the plant has even been upgraded over the years, and in the early 21st Century, Regina's water treatment was, in fact, considered to be one of THE BEST in Canada. Has it really deteriorated that much in 10 years? And, if so, WHY?

We've been told, over and over and over again, that we aren't meeting new Provincial and/or Federal Regulations to be implemented by 2016. HOWEVER, no one from the City is willing to publicly release the specifics on the contaminants that we currently release into Wascana Creek, nor are they willing to release the specifics on what these alleged new regulations require. The article briefly touches on World Health Organization standards, but this is far from any Provincial or Federal Regulated Guidelines. "Part one of the study found very high ammonia and phosphate concentrations, both of which exceeded guidelines." <-- What isn't clear with this statement is WHICH guidelines are they referring to? The WHO, Provincial, or Federal?

This is about as close to a public statement that we can get so far - from the article:
"The province has sort of set some mandates with respect to the City of Regina treatment facility by the end of 2016," he said. "So we're aiming to basically upgrade our treatment plant in line with those new coming provincial regulations. As a city, we are committed to ensuring that we're maintaining our regulatory compliance." <--- In this quote, it would be suggested that these new guidelines are provincial, but when pressured, the City of Regina has sent information that doesn't support this. In fact, some on Twitter have referred to the Federal Regulations, which again, we meet and exceed.

In the end, while the WWTP P3 Petition is a great thing for democracy, I feel VERY strongly that we all need to get educated on the realities of this situation. And, that is listening to what both sides are feeding you, but take what they tell you with a grain of salt. Know that both sides will feed you bullshit, and good information. The key is to sift through and figure out which is which. Most importantly, something that I stress to the Regina Media every single day - ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS. If something doesn't sound quite right, chances are they aren't. Keep probing until you get answers that satisfy your request. The City is unwilling to publicly share the Risk Matrix for this project, for example, saying that it would compromise Privacy concerns, which would actually demonstrate just how big of an issue, say the Ammonia is, and how big an issue, say our current plant is meeting guidelines. The question then becomes - WHY won't they release this information? I do not buy into the "privacy" argument. These are OUR tax dollars. We DEMAND to know how they are to be spent.

There are too many unanswered questions, and unfortunately, this is all too common with the City of Regina in recent years.

We NEED to demand better accountability and transparency BEFORE this gets put to a vote.

PLEASE do your part and DEMAND it from your City Council and your City Hall. 

Have a great day everyone!

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