Before I get into this week’s column, I wanted to briefly address the deep cuts affecting College of the North Atlantic as shockwaves from the provincial budget continue to rumble.
Confirming rumours on Wednesday, April 3, the Environmental Technology Co-op program, along with ABE, Adventure Tourism and Electronics Engineering Technology at the Corner Brook campus have been given the axe. My class and I are still on track to graduate on time, as will the class behind us (I believe) but there will be no new student intake for these programs in September 2013. I’ll follow up in a few weeks with further details. Rest assured that I do not have a favourable opinion on the matter.
On March 26 and 27, I had the chance to attend the Clean and Safe Drinking Water Workshop in Gander. The conference continued until 12pm Thursday, but we were able to take in most of it.
350 people were in attendance, and there were 17 trade show exhibitors.
There were many interesting talks given, but for CornerBrooker’s local readers, I will focus on the ones that were about the Corner Brook and Western Newfoundland region.
Carl Hann, Manager of Operations working out of the Corner Brook office of Service NL gave a brief summary of three recent occurrences in the Western region of NL where waterlines were potentially impacted by petroleum contaminated soil.
Highlights of his discussion included: importance of non-consumption orders to consumers, precautions to be taken during a similar contamination event, requirements of a site professional, and government departments involved in providing assistance or guidance during a similar contamination event. He used real-life case studies, but did not identify the towns involved.
Steve May, the City of Corner Brook’s Director of Operational Services provided an update on the Water Treatment plant.
The city has had a water treatment plant in its sights since 1992, when there was an outbreak of Giardia. Funding partners were sought and the provincial and federal governments agreed to fund the project on a 1/3-1/3-1/3 basis. The estimated total cost at that time was $36M. The design was completed in the summer of 2010 and project was tended under “Design-Bid-Build” delivery method. Lowest bid was significantly higher than the budget and City Council was not prepared to fund the overrun, which would have been 100% paid by the City. The project in its current form came to a halt at that point.
City Staff set out to evaluate alternate project delivery methods and decided to make a second attempt, this time utilizing the “Design-Build” delivery method.
May’s presentation described factors that lead to the decision, the process that was followed through the design and bidding stages, and the results that should save the City $15M on the overall project.
Christa Ramsay, an Environmental Scientist in the Department of Environment and Conservation, discussed the protection and conservation of Newfoundland and Labrador’s water resources. She discussed watershed management, which is an essential component of the approach to clean and safe drinking water. There was a brief discussion/refresher of the Water Resources Act.
She discussed monitoring, and how it’s a cooperative effort between communities and government. Environmental scientists conduct inspections periodically to ensure permitted development activities are being undertaken in an environmentally acceptable manner and also assist in any land use conflicts that may arise.
Municipalities have the responsibilities of sign postage in common areas, regular surveillance of the watershed areas, reporting violations to the appropriate environmental scientist, and sometimes requesting the Minister for the appointment of a Watershed Monitoring Committee.
*Note that there was no discussion on the Corner Brook watershed development controversy, but perhaps something came up after we departed. The brief question period after was the most fiery and volatile of all the presentations. People are concerned for their watersheds, no doubt.
After this presentation, my class returned to Corner Brook, and I proceeded on to the Avalon for Easter. According to the agenda, there was a presentation by Western Health representatives on Thursday, March 28. I wasn’t in attendance for that one, so I can’t comment on it.
My next regular publishing date will be usurped by exam week. I’ll jump back in briefly for one more column, then I’ll be taking a hiatus while I go on my workterm in St. John’s.