Abbotsford eyes $300M water system as taps set to run dry
The City of Abbotsford, B.C. is considering a new $300-million water system, warning that the current water supply is in danger of running out in the next five years.
City council has announced a plan for new infrastructure on Stave Lake that would be financed as part of a private-public partnership. Without the new system, officials fear the city will outgrow its current supply in Norris Creek by 2016.
"Two years ago, we came perilously close to maxing out our water supply," Mayor George Peary told CTV News.
"Having access to another source that will give us enough water moving forward is critical. It takes time, and this is a major project. We're talking almost $300 million total cost."
Council says a quarter of the cost will likely be covered by a federal grant, but residents can expect their water bills to go up.
Some residents are up in arms over the idea of a company profiting from the community's water.
"This is commodifying water. The private operator will be making $1 million more a year than what we would be paying through the public system," said Lynn Perrin of Water Watch.
Mission council walked away from the idea of a P3 for its water, even though that city also faces shortages.
"Council did feel it's the community's interest to leave water in the public's hands," Mission Mayor James Atebe said.
Abbotsford residents will get a chance to vote on the water proposal in the upcoming municipal election.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Julia Foy