Sewage treatment project will hit cost overruns

Taxpayers need to continue to ask questions of the CRD and the sewage treatment project, writes Tony Rose

The public should be aware that the much publicized cost of $780 million for regional sewage treatment is not much more than a guestimate, plus or minus 25 per cent at best.

A 25 per cent increase in cost on this project will almost double the amount the local taxpayer has to fund.

In discussions with the CRD, it seems as if very little of the necessary detailed engineering to produce a definitive estimate appears to have been done.

There are doubts about the ability of the CRD to give “due diligence” to a project of this nature and size on behalf of the taxpayer.

Recent large municipal projects have had overruns well in excess of that 25 per cent, and there is no reason to believe that the sewage project will be any different.

Bear in mind, too, that this plant has a finite life. It is designed to last 25 years, at which point all or part of it will need to be replaced. Like your car, it wears down.

If there is a decision to go ahead, then the most reasonable and least painful way to introduce water treatment would be to phase it in over a period of 25 years with smaller modular plants at say, three year intervals, costing no more than $50 to 80 million each.

It’s still a substantial investment, but certainly a better way to control cost overruns, and which gives you the opportunity to see if and how it works.

We need to continue to ask questions of the CRD, and request a public forum with their engineering department to better understand their capabilities and how they propose to conduct this project.

Tony Rose, Saanich