2/11/12

Septage: The White Elephant Awakens

Nearly two years ago, I wrote that the proposed septage treatment component of the new sewage plant was a white elephant—an expensive, best-of-intentions facility that would never meet its financial or environmental goals. Nothing has happened since to change my mind.

For the proposed business plan to work (that is, for the septage facility to make enough money to pay its bills), the Town assumed that Queen's Park would pass regulations to force local septic-tank pumpers to use the facility. Despite efforts by Diane Smithson and various members of Council to persuade the Province, no regulation is forthcoming. In fact, the current environment minister declined the latest invitation to meet a Town delegation in Toronto.

Troy Dunlop, our very capable Director of Roads and Public Works, contacted all local septage haulers asking if they planned to use the facility. Most said no. One said "maybe occasionally." That means there will not be enough tipping fee revenue to cover the operating costs of the facility.

Troy told me that the Town can't simply shut down the facility. Even if unused, it requires maintenance. Because of that, he asked Council to add $10,000 to the 2012 budget to cover the cost of septage facility operations. That money will be added to the septage tax levy rural taxpayers will be hit with later this year. (I was the only vote against it.)

If the septage facility continues to be underused, rural taxpayers may see a bill for it operations for years to come.

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