The accounting figures and explanations of the costs of the sewer system shared with us in last week’s Sooke News Mirror demonstrate clearly the need to undertake a thorough forensic evaluation of the waste water management system including an accounting, technical and business evaluation. This analysis would reconcile the apparent confusion in the accounting figures; explain why the costs of the system have increased substantially; identify the technical capacity, limitations, risks and potential of the system; and reveal the business assumptions that justified the system, what has changed and what are the realistic business assumptions going forward.
This analysis would provide a sound basis for determining the usage fees necessary to sustain and develop the system and put in place the necessary accounting procedures and evaluation criteria that will avoid confusion and conflict in the future.
This also raises the more important question of the need to evaluate the alternatives to contracting out the management of our waste water system operations and maintenance. Two alternatives are to manage the system directly as a division of the municipal government or create a community owned cooperative to manage the system. There are definite economic benefits to these alternatives including at least keeping the $100,000 annual management fee that is now being paid to EPCOR, in the local community. Yes, we are at the beginning of a five-year contract with EPCOR but given the current challenges facing the system it would be worthwhile to look at this now, determine the cost/benefits and consult with EPCOR regarding the best way to go forward for the benefit of the community and to fairly deal with EPCOR.
We need to know where we came from, where we are at and where we need to go. This evaluation and alternative analysis would address this need. It would cost money, but it is worth the investment given the millions of dollars that will be spent on this system over the coming years.