Federal and provincial taxpayers to subsidize sewage treatment in Victoria

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The governments of Canada and BC have announced that they will foot almost two-thirds of the bill for a new sewage treatment system for Victoria. Such subsidies are inequitable, inefficient, and unnecessary. Continue reading

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Debunking the myth of public-sector accountability

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Those who advocate purely public water and sewage utilities warn that private financing and operation impede transparency, diminish accountability, and undermine government regulation. They have it backwards: Public utilities have repeatedly shown themselves to be un-transparent and un-accountable. Continue reading

Transparency in P3s: disclosure v. confidentiality

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Last week, a legislative committee considering Manitoba’s Public-Private Partnerships Transparency and Accountability Act heard arguments on both the importance of public access to information and the need to protect industry’s confidential information. Continue reading

Mandating transparency … or killing P3s?

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In May, the Manitoba government introduced The Public-Private Partnerships Transparency and Accountability Act. Ostensibly intended to ensure transparency, it may instead hamstring municipalities that want to pursue public-private partnerships. Continue reading

Water regulator calls for greater transparency and accountability

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Concerned about fairness and transparency, Manitoba’s Public Utilities Board is recommending that it regulate the rates charged by Winnipeg’s water and sewer utilities. Continue reading

Factory farms erode democratic rights

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In a new report examining the impacts of factory farming, the World Society for the Protection of Animals explains that right-to-farm laws have curtailed the rights of rural residents to be free of agricultural pollution. The authors bolster their arguments with quotes from Greener Pastures: Decentralizing the Regulation of Agricultural Pollution. Continue reading

Environmental assessments don’t protect the environment: Bruce Pardy

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Last week, as most environmentalists bemoaned the federal government’s decision to streamline environmental assessments, one expert shed no tears. Bruce Pardy, professor of environmental law at Queen’s University and member of Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal, told CBC Radio that “environmental assessment is not a great way to protect the environment.” Continue reading

Modest growth in US water industry

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In its annual Water Partnerships Report, Public Works Financing assesses the state of the US water and wastewater services industry. The country’s six largest water and wastewater firms now operate, maintain, and/or manage 720 water facilities and 939 wastewater facilities in 1,319 municipalities. Continue reading

Pricing water to encourage conservation

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On World Water Day, Elizabeth Brubaker argues for full-cost water pricing. Full-cost prices give water users financial incentives to conserve, while maintaining their freedom to use water in the ways that are most important to them. Continue reading

Trew or False? Do trade agreements threaten our water systems?

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Council of Canadians campaigner Stuart Trew is warning that a free trade agreement between Canada and Europe would threaten Canada’s municipal water systems. The proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, he claims, would lock in bad deals with private water service providers and lock out regulatory improvements. Mr. Trew’s claims are false. Continue reading

$1.2B in Sewage Treatment Upgrades for Winnipeg

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Water Canada reports that Winnipeg needs to find $1.2 billion for upgrades to its sewage treatment facilities. The article cites Environment Probe’s criticism of Winnipeg’s agreement with Veolia Water – an agreement that guarantees no private investment in the ailing sewage facilities. Continue reading

Drummond Report calls for full-cost water pricing

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The Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services – chaired by economist Don Drummond – is calling for full-cost pricing for municipal water and wastewater services. The Commission also gives a nod to the private financing of municipal infrastructure. Continue reading

Privatizing water services

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CBC Radio’s “The Current” turns its attention to privatizing water and sewage services, engaging Environment Probe’s Elizabeth Brubaker and several others in a lively discussion about what greater private-sector involvement could mean for Canada. Continue reading

Support for public-private partnerships grows

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According to a recent poll, two-thirds of Canadians support public-private partnerships (P3s) for water treatment and sewage facilities. These numbers are up considerably from last year. Continue reading

Environmental Commissioner renews call for full-cost water pricing

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The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario is once again calling on the Ontario government to promote the full-cost pricing of water. In his Annual Report for 2010/2011, released last week, the ECO argues that water charges should be levied to promote conservation, pay for municipal infrastructure, and cover the province’s costs of managing the resource. Continue reading

Round Table recommends charging industry for water

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The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy has released Charting a Course: Sustainable Water Use by Canada’s Natural Resource Sectors. The report calls for new approaches to managing water use by the energy, mining, forest, and agriculture sectors – the country’s biggest water users. Continue reading

Save Stave Lake’s P3

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In this National Post op-ed, Elizabeth Brubaker reviews Abbotsford, B.C.’s, proposed Stave Lake water project. If it earns voters’ approval in a referendum, it will be Canada’s largest privately financed undertaking in the water sector to date. Continue reading

Using private funding and expertise to bring Canadians high quality water services — at low cost, too

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In her annual letter to supporters, Elizabeth Brubaker writes that Canada’s water is under threat. It’s threatened by the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Council of Canadians, who have teamed up to oppose private financing and operations of water systems. Their approach is wrong-headed and dangerous. Continue reading

Make polluters pay! Back off government!

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In this article in the C2C Journal, Elizabeth Brubaker reviews recent court cases against polluters, large and small, demonstrating that common-law property rights remain powerful tools for environmental protection. But courts are hamstrung when governments authorize pollution. Only when governments don’t stand in the way can people use their property rights to shield themselves from harm. Continue reading

Procurement alliances will be key to securing water work, C.D. Howe Institute report finds

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In its third article about Elizabeth Brubaker’s report, A Bridge Over Troubled Waters, the Daily Commercial News reviews ways to control the costs of water and wastewater projects. Municipalities can tap into private management and engineering experience, negotiate financing and operating contracts with incentives to keep costs down, and reform water pricing to encourage consumers to reduce their water use and avoid the need for new infrastructure. Continue reading