Gentlefolk, I present you with the city’s official
Wastewater Sewage Treatment Plant timeline. I love how it leaves us after handback in 2044 right where we started: A plant in need of replacement and EPCOR winning the P3 contract.
Don’t think of it as a timeline, think of it as a Circle Of Prophecy.
And, hey… here’s a thing about the current WWTP contract that I never got around to writing on before taking off for GLORIOUS AND SUNNY MALTA: the fact that when EPCOR was revealed as the preferred bidder on the WWTP P3, their bid to build the plant came in WAAAAY under the worst-case scenario in the city’s pre-referendum reports.
I’m betting a lot of the more pugnacious “No Side” supporters¹ in the referendum were crowing pretty loudly about that.
“Those fuckers at Prairie Dog sure have egg on their faces now. AS PER EFFING USUAL,” I imagine them having said as they rage clinked their bottles of Müsknuckle.
First, as Regina Water Watch’s Jim Holmes pointed out after the city released its financial deal with EPCOR, the “Yes Side” was always perplexed by the anticipated construction costs the city was touting and Holmes mused more than once during the referendum that those numbers looked strangely inflated.
So, it’d be pretty rich for the city to claim now that it’s coming in “under budget” when it seems to have — perhaps, artificially — boosted the projected construction cost so as to… To what? I don’t know… Maybe make the project look so burdensome that no one would dare vote to put it all on the backs of property tax and utility rate increases? Or maybe to make themselves look like financial wizards when the project comes in under the inflated number?
But of course, none of that would be cricket. So I’m sure that’s not what happened.
And I’m sure nobody threw a few extra tens of millions onto the anticipated construction budget because nobody really knows what’s going on with a project of this size anyway.
And even if they did, I’m sure the accountants have perfectly reasonable sounding names for when they throw extra tens of millions onto line items because they don’t really know what’s going on.
The second thing… So what if the construction budget comes in under budget? These are early days of the project though the scale of that infographic will make you think we’re about 1/8th the way along.
I’ll direct you to this article that I wrote just before referendum day entitled “Why I’m Voting The Way I’m Voting.”
In it, I point out that I actually support using a P3 to build the wastewater treatment plant.
Where I see problems coming is during those 30 years of blue on the City’s circular timeline, after the plant is built and the real costs and complications start to pile up.
I also see a problem in that little white gap on the timeline. That’s the moment when the city realizes that over the last 30 years, everyone who knows anything about waste water treatment plants has either retired or gone on to work for EPCOR.
“Oh bugger,” we’ll be saying. “Does anybody know where the ‘Shit In’ valve is? We really need to hire an expert to run this sewage plant thingy.
“I wonder who that could be…?”
¹ This stuff was almost a year ago now and there’s no reason anyone should remember so, just in case… The “No Side” supported building the Waste Water Treatment Plant through a 30-year, Design Build Finance Maintain Public Private Partnership. The “Yes Side” wanted to go with a traditional Design Bid Build contract where the city maintained direct control and operation of the plant over its lifetime.
(A version of this rant appeared on Twitter which is where you’ll find most of my bragging about how awesome — and damnably hot — Malta is. And in case you were wondering, all is well. Wish you were here.)