At the General Government Services committee this morning Aquatera is tabling it's 2009 Annual Information to Shareholders Report. (Read the whole report for yourself HERE.)
The report contains some interesting points that caught my attention:
• The proposed 2009/10 Capital Budget totals more than $17 million and the projection for five years is $110 million.
That's more than the cost of the Aquatics Centre Multiplex! If the city and our partners had not formed Aquatera that $110 million in capital projects would be competing with other municipal priorities, particularly since we are limited on how much debt we can take on. I, for one, am happy that we aren't in a situation where road upgrades or a new fire hall have to compete with water infrastructure for funding.
• The Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) has reached capacity. Significantly increased chemical use is needed to meet quality standards. Construction of the initial phase of the Wastewater Treatment plant upgrade is complete. Further phases of upgrading will accommodate growth and more stringent effluent standards including disinfection and enhanced nutrient removal requirements currently set for June 2013. A Wastewater Treatment Facility Master Plan commenced in 2009 to set direction for future upgrades. The Master Plan will be completed in spring 2010.
• A Sludge Survey for the Storage Lagoon was completed in early July to establish the quantity and characteristics of the sludge in the storage lagoon at the WWTP. This was also needed to establish the cost for budgeting purposes. It is anticipated that this work may take place in 2010 – subject to available funding. Desludging will increase lagoon capacity and reduce the potential for off-site odours.
• The Aquatera water system is served from a single treated water line. A second feed for back-up and redundancy is planned beyond 2010.
This is probably one of the capital projects in that $110 million 5 year projection and I'd say it's a must. Although I'm sure the one line is well maintained and safe, not having a redundant back up is a risk that should be addressed.
• Aquatera has completed its second year of Aquatic Assessment and Water Conservation Programs as mandated by our interim diversion license. The projected cost for the Aquatic Assessment Program for 2010 is approximately $140,000.
This is just one example of how provincial regulations directly impact Aquatera's cost of doing business. I think it's good that they are looking after the environment but people need to know that these are costs that are forced on the company and end up being reflected in the rates.
• Three management / administrative positions were eliminated (in the Solid Waste division)
There's been quite a bit of talk about how the company runs the landfill operation. I had someone ask me "why doesn't Aquatera just cut staff when times are tough - like any other private company would". Turns out they have.
• Recycling depot collection and processing contracts were renewed for a 3 year term with Recycle Plus, effective June 1, 2009 to June 30, 2012.
• Development of a Community Energy System was halted and the related Steam Supply Agreement expired.
This is sad news, and an opportunity lost. We could have been heating buildings in the city using the waste heat from the operations at the Co-Gen plant at Canfor.
• The Bottle Donation Program gave $78,000 to community groups in 2009 - since the program began in 2004, almost $358,000 has been raised to support local groups.
This, on the other hand, is great news! It's good to see that the company has been able to put a program into place that helps the community give.
• (On getting services to new areas of the city...) The most challenging areas are the north and west portions of the City. Although we have developed interim strategies for some of these areas, they come with a hefty price tag and may require partnering amongst developers to lessen the financial burden.
Interestingly these are the main areas that the county was willing to give up for short term annexation in the Intermunicipal Development Plan negotiations. This suggests, to me, that the city is getting land that may not develop quickly due to the difficulty and expense of getting services out there.
That's some of the high points but read the report yourself and see what you think. Overall, when one looks at the data I think Aquatera has been doing an effective job under challenging conditions.