Company will operate water treatment plant for another five years
SACKVILLE. N.B. – Veolia will continue to operate Sackville’s water treatment plant until 2019.
Town council recently renewed its agreement with Veolia Water Canada for another five-year period, starting next spring, for the continued operation and maintenance of the water treatment facility. The current agreement, which was signed in 2007, was a seven-year deal and runs out at the end of April 2014.
George Woodburn, Sackville’s director of public works and engineering, recommended council renew the agreement with Veolia, “based upon the quality of the operation of the plant.”
He said Veolia has been doing a first-rate job of operating the plant and providing clean water to the residents and Sackville is fortunate to be able to “piggyback” off of Veolia’s availability, since it’s the same company that has been servicing Moncton’s water treatment plant since 1999.
Woodburn said the new agreement is based on the same annual costs approved back in 2007 ($177,600) but with the consumer price index rate factored in each year over that time.
At the time the town initially hired Veolia, council explained that the company was being hired to bring in the necessary expertise to help the town solve some of its longstanding water issues. As well, with no level three or four operator amongst the town’s public works staff, the municipality was informed by the province that it would soon need to come up with a plan to ensure there were properly-trained personnel to run the plant.
Some residents and local union representatives voiced their concerns at the time, saying they were disappointed council had hired an outside firm instead of training its own employees to do the job.
Seven years later, Coun. Bill Evans said he is disappointed the town still hasn’t considered any other options beyond re-hiring Veolia.
Evans said the current service provided by Veolia is outstanding “but we are certainly paying for it.”
“Could we be getting adequate treatment for less money?” he asked, noting that the town should look at training staff or hiring an operator, at least as a future alternative.
Coun. Shawn Mesheau agreed with Evans, saying “we need to ensure we’re exercising all our options.”
“We need to have a game plan,” he said. “I have no problems at all with the company but we need to look at the best value for our dollar. Is there another way to do this?”
Mayor Bob Berry, who served on town council when Veolia was first hired by the municipality, said he is pleased with the service and doesn’t want to fix what’s not broken.
Berry said prior to Veolia coming on board seven years ago, residents were calling in to town hall daily to make complaints about dirty water or stained clothes. Now that rarely happens.
“I’m not going to take the chance with our water supply,” he said of considering other alternatives. “At the end of the day, we’ve got to have the water safe at the other end.”