| Dec 13, 2007


Letters - December 13, 2007 Back toHome Letters - December 13, 2007 Letters November 29Sydenham Water: The Crux of the Problem, Cathie WaughSydenham Water: the crux of the problem

Small rural municipalities simply can’t manage and can’t afford the province’s demands for water and sewage. Both South Frontenac Township and the province need to re-think how much the people of Sydenham should be paying for a system fraught with problems and for which the province now says is not financially sustainable for less than 3,000 users. Sydenham has 274.

When the province downloaded water and sewage on municipalities they didn’t consider that small rural municipalities often lack the technical or business skills available to manage complex projects. This seems to be the case for South Frontenac Township. There was no municipal representative with skills in water/sewage infrastructure that could oversee implementing the Sydenham water system. The responsibility was handed over to the consulting engineering firm with no one in the municipality capable of scrutinizing their work.

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So the people gave it a shot, and found numerous discrepancies that seemed to skew the conclusions of the environmental assessment in favour of the water system. But when the people presented over 60 concerns to the township, they asked the consultant that made the errors to evaluate our concerns! And when we brought our concerns to the province, they deferred to the township since municipalities were deemed responsible for the project. Clearly, the people were hitting a wall.

Less deferring and more direction from the province would have been warranted. A simple guideline for using two different consultants, one for recommending a solution and one for building the solution, potentially could have eliminated a lot of problems for Sydenham.

Unfortunately these problems continue to haunt us. It’s now public knowledge that the water has been exceeding the provincial drinking water standards for trihalomethanes (potential carcinogens) since it started running. What’s interesting is that it appears no seasonal composite water testing was done prior to determining the water treatment process. And no one in the municipality identified this as a potential problem. Perhaps this was not a concern since the contract signed between the municipality and the consultant didn’t seem to address water quality. Normally contracts with consultants outline the expected results, how they are to be measured and consequences if the results are not achieved. Did we really pay $8 million for a water system and forget to ask that it produce quality water?

Both the South Frontenac council and the province should be taking responsibility for the sloppy management of this system; after all, the people’s concerns were well known. The province should be giving additional funding for a water plant they approved but didn’t scrutinize and now say is not affordable. And the municipality should be spreading the costs over the township since representatives from all the districts took responsibility when they voted for it. This won’t change the questionable need for the water plant, but it could be an important step for improving community relations.

Cathie Waugh, Sydenham

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