MONCTON, NB – May 7, 2015 – Petitcodiac Riverkeeper says it is worried about the Greater Moncton Wastewater Commission’s (now known as TransAqua) plan to seek a P3 (public-private partnership) as a funding model. The P3 project means to invest in a facilities upgrade to secondary treatment in order to meet new federal regulations that will come into effect in 2020.
According to Petitcodiac Riverkeeper’s Chair, Paul N. Belliveau, one must be careful with the P3 concept when it comes to funding and managing public services. “I believe that a public utility, such as a wastewater treatment plant, should remain within the public sector. There are several examples of similar projects for managing and treating wastewater that have not worked well and have had a negative impact on the environment.”
The Riverkeepers say they are worried that pursuing profit could now become the main focus for TransAqua if it is managed as a private company. This could lead to decisions that would compromise the quality of its services and operations. “We believe that the P3 concept simply poses unacceptable risks,” says Mr. Belliveau.
If the P3 project is accepted, users might be forced to see and accept an increase in rates without knowing the reasons behind this increase or having the right to demand access to information. “Wherever there are P3 projects in place to manage the collection and treatment of wastewater, we see this phenomenon, less operational control and lack of access to information by the public,” says Mr. Belliveau. “We know that TransAqua has a financial reserve in place that is quite attractive to private companies who do wastewater treatment. Having this reserve go to the hands of the private sector is very risky. We could lose control of a very vital public service.”
Having seen the dangers of P3 projects elsewhere which manage the collection and treatment of wastewater and given the risks (loss of control and the right of access to information by citizens, eventual compromises on quality of operations and services when profit becomes the number one priority and potential negative environmental impacts), Petitcodiac Riverkeeper believes TransAqua’s management should be fully in the hands of the public sector instead of a public-private partnership.
Petitcodiac Riverkeeper is a non-profit organization. Its main objective is to restore the ecological health of the Petitcodiac and Memramcook River watersheds, including the Shepody Bay estuary, located in southeastern New Brunswick. The Petitcodiac Riverkeeper is part investigator, scientist, educator, and advocate. The Petitcodiac Riverkeeper acts as a public voice for our waterways, protecting our right to clean water and a healthy watershed.