P3 progress report: Momentum building for water and wastewater partnerships

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Recent months have seen several encouraging developments on the water and wastewater front: Saint John, New Brunswick, has decided to seek a private partner to design, build, and finance a new water treatment plant and to operate and maintain it for 30 years; Regina, Saskatchewan, is planning to use a 30-year public-private partnership (P3) to upgrade its aging sewage treatment plant; a federal standing committee has released a report on the effectiveness of P3s in the delivery of public infrastructure; and PPP Canada has released a study on the suitability of P3s for water and wastewater projects. Continue reading

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Pricing missing from Ontario water strategy

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In its new Water Sector Strategy, Ontario aims to promote public-private partnerships for water infrastructure, encourage alternative financing models, nurture the water technology sector, and increase water conservation. But the Strategy is missing a key piece of the puzzle: full-cost pricing. Continue reading

Don’t bottle 13-year-old’s water wisdom

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Adapted from the guest blog below, this op-ed in the National Post throws cold water on the Council of Canadians’ Blue Communities campaign. Essie Solomon argues that municipalities would be ill-advised to ban bottled water sales, reject privately funded and operated water systems, and deem water a human right. Continue reading

The flawed logic behind Blue Communities

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In this guest blog, Essie Solomon argues that municipalities that become Blue Communities do a disservice to their residents and the environment. Continue reading

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

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

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

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

$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

Performance-Based Contracting

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This article in Municipal World discusses Elizabeth Brubaker’s report, A Bridge Over Troubled Waters: Alternative Financing and Delivery of Water and Wastewater Services. It focusses on performance-based contracts, which can encourage innovation and create financial incentives for water utility operators to perform well. Continue reading

Shale Gas in Canada: An Overview

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In this overview of shale gas in Canada, Manish Oza addresses basic questions about the location and volume of the resource, the environmental concerns associated with its extraction, and the regulatory regimes governing the industry. The paper is intended not to provide the last word on these issues but to help inform the still-early stages of the public policy discussion across the country. Continue reading

The Privatization of City Services

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BNN’s “Headline” features a discussion of the privatization of city services, including water and sewage. Environment Probe’s Elizabeth Brubaker, CUPE’s Paul Moist, and Ontario Waste Management Association’s Rob Cook debate the merits of privatization. Continue reading

Poorly performing Cdn water systems endangering public health, environment

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Eric Laganis writes in EcoLog about Elizabeth Brubaker’s report, A Bridge Over Troubled Waters: Alternative Financing and Delivery of Water and Wastewater Services. He reviews the problems facing Canada’s drinking water and wastewater systems and the solutions proposed in the report. Continue reading

Saving every last drop of city’s water

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As the City of Toronto looks to plug its $774 million budget hole, it has kick-started a comprehensive service review. Writing in the Toronto Star, Elizabeth Brubaker and Benjamin Dachis propose that the service review consider the large potential savings from contracting out the water and sewage services that the city currently provides. Continue reading

A Bridge Over Troubled Waters: Alternative Financing and Delivery of Water and Wastewater Services

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In this Commentary, published by the C.D. Howe Institute, Elizabeth Brubaker writes that drinking water and sewage systems across Canada threaten public health and the environment. Municipalities lack the resources to correct utility failings. Private water and wastewater services providers are well positioned to help municipalities with needed capital and expertise. Engaged through competitive contracting and governed by performance-based contracts, private providers have incentives to find efficiencies and perform well. Continue reading

Canadians’ contradictory water attitudes

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A new survey of Canadians’ attitudes toward water reveals deep concerns about both water quality and water quantity. It also exposes a dangerous reluctance to address these issues if doing so means paying more for water or wastewater infrastructure or services. Continue reading

Incentives Matter

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EPRF’s presentation to the Walkerton Inquiry’s Public Hearing on Guiding Principles focuses on the need to eliminate conflicts of interest and to internalize costs.

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The real agenda in Walkerton

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Ontario Premier Mike Harris survived his appearance yesterday before the Walkerton inquiry. More than survived: He triumphed. Facing an orchestrated ambush by smirking union lawyers, hired activists and placard-carrying demonstrators, Mr. Harris rose so far above the low politically motivated smears of his prosecutors that many citizens of Ontario must now be wondering about the validity of the Harris caricature they have been fed for most of the past year.

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