"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Sunday 10 April 2011

Water Rates

Somethings been rolling about in my head, growing in size, like a dust bunny since Tuesday night.

The Treasurer referred to  legislative requirements that add to  cost of  water. The requirements are not new. They have been in effect for several years.

The Mayor, presumably in support of an  increase in rates, said ;

"water is the best bargain we have"


The treasurer referred to the Walkerton scandal that  left seven people dead and hundreds with lasting damage.

"Municipal Councils are now personally responsible  for water safety" he said.

What irony ?

The Harris government, in a drive for economy, disbanded  Ontario Water Resources Commission.  It was  a watchdog agency and a resource to municipalities all over the province, to guarantee safe water.

Walkerton, with shallow wells.  surrounded by fields drenched regularly  with pure, unadulterated  manure  and fertilisers and other chemicals peculiar to the "natural " environment, hired two guys without competence, to ensure  purity of the town's drinking water.

One of them, who wept on the witness stand , went to jail for causing the deaths of seven residents.

No-one responsible for giving him the responsibility, suffered any consequences whatsoever for dereliction of duty  resulting in death.

Now,after that fact, municipal councils are personally responsible for the safety of  drinking water.

The Ontario Water Resources Commission has not been restored. 

In Aurora,  our wells are hundreds of feet deep.  Water being drawn to the surface  has been carbon dated and determined to be thousands of years in the ground and is as cold and  crystal pure as could be, having filtered through layers of natural purifiers for hundreds of years.

 We are now required to add  to it multiple chemicals to remove such contaminants  as surround the shallow aquifer  of the Town of Walkerton.

According to our experts. that  is  reason to justify the rate increase for water . That makes water a bargain.

I don't think so.

Part of the rational  for the last increase was  a change in estimate of water loss from 8% to 12%. When I asked for figures to support the estimate, they were refused.

The reason? I might twist them.

Firefighters refill tankers from hydrants after fighting a fire. A tanker is built to be driven with a full tank. Hydrants are not metered.

Parks are irrigated in hot dry weather from sources without meters.

Childrens' water parks are spilling out clean water in hundreds of thousands of gallons in the summer. The source  is not metered.

No records can be kept. No  accurate estimates  made. Charges cannot be made against a town department budget.

Is that where the  increased  water loss estimates come from?

If  water used for town services which should be charged against taxes,  are rolled in to increase rates charged to consumers for water, does that mean  residential and commercial users are charged for water they did not use?

I  think so.

I think consumers are being misled into believing they pay only  for  water they use.

If I do not have the authority to issue that challenge on behalf of the consumer, who the hell does?

Is it my job to sit comfortably in that chair in the council chamber, feeling puffed up with my own importance and pretend everything is as it ought to be, when I do not believe it is? 

This is not rocket science.  I get angry when I think somebody else thinks I'm not smart enough to recognise  the game being played. I have a hard time staying calm in the face of it.  I am not there to play nice while  being taken for a  fool .

On Tuesday night, my reaction was strong. I make no apology. The anger was righteous.

Afterward, Councillor Thompson took it upon himself to proffer assurance of his confidence in a job well done. 

The Mayor said. "Water is the best bargain we have"

Last year's increase in water rates was 12%. This year's was 10%. In two years , the increase is 24%.

It  passed on Tuesday without further ado.

That's how Topsy grows.


Anonymous said...

Evelyn ,you should have been born an ostrich , You would have fit in well with your partners

Councillor Thompson said...

If I may add, my kind words were in regards to the presentation. It is a complex subject and for a new councillor I thought staff did a good job informing me of the history, obligations and challenges facing all of us over the the next 4 years. I also raised questions about the impact over the next 4 years and share some of the same concerns you have.

Councillor Thompson

Anonymous said...

I believe that a few years ago Aurora was told by the Region that we were going to have to divert some of our water north and that we would start receiving some water from Lake Ontario that was going to be blended with our own.

This was supposed to put us on an even footing with the rest of the regional municipalities when it came to water source.

Is this correct?

Several years ago during a particularly dry spell that summer, and with the watering ban in effect, we ordered a number of tanker loads of water to keep our flower beds from dying. After the first load that came from the town where the tanker company was based, the next few loads arrived very quickly, one after another. I asked the driver where he was getting his water. His reply, "Aurora." Go figure!!!