ID No.: GQM00256
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PRESS RELEASE 4

Report of the Commission sur la gestion de l’eau au Québec

THE COMMISSION OPPOSES THE PRIVATIZATION
OF MUNICIPAL WATER SERVICES

Québec City, May 3, 2000 – In its report entitled L'eau, ressource à protéger, à partager et à mettre en valeur, the Commission sur la gestion de l'eau au Québec voices its opposition to the privatization of municipal water treatment facilities. According to the Commission, "these facilities are a public asset and must remain so. Moreover, the citizens of Québec are unanimous on this point." None of the municipalities have shown any intention of divesting themselves of their water supply or sewer systems.

In terms of service management, various forms of partnership are possible and some, such as subcontracting or short-term management contracts, have already been put into practice. However, "The Commission is not in favour of widespread outsourcing of municipal water services in the form of long-term contracts."

Municipalities that envision entering into long-term outsourcing or mixed-enterprise contracts should, in the Commission’s opinion, consult the local population through a referendum, since such contracts imply changes in both local democratic practices and the role played by elected officials in municipal service delivery.

According to the Commission, the condition of municipal water supply and sewage infrastructures is by far the thorniest issue. In numerous municipalities, the infrastructures are ageing and require urgent repair. However, such work is costly and, politically speaking, unprofitable, with municipalities preferring to develop new systems rather than maintain and renovate ageing ones. Repair costs are currently estimated at $600 million annually over 15 years, for a total of $9 billion. The situation is particularly pressing in Montréal, where 27% of the water supply system is over 80 years old and over 40% of the system is leaking.

The Commission thus feels that it is high time to implement a municipal infrastructure improvement program jointly financed by the Québec and federal governments. It also deems it imperative that "the Québec government authorize or oblige the municipalities to set aside funds for ageing infrastructures, include investment forecasts in water services accounting and carry out repairs or renovations when necessary."

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SOURCE:

Serge Labrecque, Information Officer
Telephone: (418) 643-7447 or 1-800-463-4732
E-mail: eau@bape.gouv.qc.ca

 

Ó Gouvernement du Québec 2000