City urgently needs water

City manager: Significant challenges beyond 2016

First, I would like to say that I am not a big fan of writing letters to the media. I prefer to deal in reality and facts and honest conversations with residents. However, I am writing this letter in the hopes of clarifying some of the misinformation that has been provided by various special interest groups, and subsequently published by the media and others. It is easy for people to make claims when they will never be held accountable for what they say!

A new water source project has been in the works at the City since the mid-1990s. From that time forward, the City has engaged top engineers, accountants, and consultants to provide their best advice on the most economical and feasible new source of water for our community. Those studies are all available on the www.stavelakeproject.ca website and I encourage you to take the time to read all of the information that we took into consideration in coming to a decision on Stave Lake for Abbotsford.

Many residents have asked about the need for water now. Let me assure you, and not just as the City Manager, but as a resident and taxpayer of Abbotsford, there is no question that our community needs a new source of water urgently. If we receive approval on November 19th, water from Stave Lake will be available to us approximately five years from today – which will take us right to the cusp of facing an absolute water shortage. We have determined that with significant conservation efforts and interim well water supplies that we can cope until then. Beyond 2016, we will face significant challenges in this community.

I would like to be very clear with everyone that the City of Abbotsford will always own the water and water rights from the Stave Lake source. We will own the treatment plant and all of the new infrastructure that feeds it. Abbotsford and Abbotsford alone will determine how much water comes from Stave Lake and will control quality, water rates and water billing. There will be no privatized water, Abbotsford will always retain control over all of our water sources and the supply from those sources.

People have also asked about our economical need for water. The industrial and commercial sector definitely needs to know there is an adequate supply of water before they further invest in our community. A new water source will allow business to grow and locate in our City, which will affect the number of jobs and taxes for all of us. A new water source will also allow flexibility in our personal watering practices. Water is one of those commodities that is extremely valuable for a viable, healthy, economically vibrant community. We do not want to sacrifice any aspect of our wonderful community.

In contemplating the worst case scenario, I expect that if we get to 2016 and the City has to start restricting the supply of water to residents and businesses and significantly raising water rates, City administration, and me as City Manager, will be accused of poor planning and issue management. Again it is easy to lay accusations and provide misinformation if you are not accountable for the end result. From my perspective, I cannot in good conscience recommend any other course of action than voting yes to support the Stave Lake Water Project.

In closing, I hope that you will consider one question – “Why is the City embarking on this project?” The honest answer is that our community needs an adequate supply of water today and tomorrow, and we want to establish it at the most affordable price for users. It is our role to present you with the best options for our community, and I believe that we are doing just that.

I ask you to please take the time to educate yourselves about this vital community issue. This is not a “City Hall” problem, this is a community wide issue that will impact all of us.

Please feel free to contact me at fpizzuto@abbotsford.ca or 604-864-5501 if you have any questions or feel that you require any information on this very important project.

 

Frank Pizzuto

City Manager