Letter to the editor: Time to fix water troubles

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Ottawa Citizen

Re: Time to pay the piper, Feb. 1.

As a fiscally prudent person I’m naturally averse to hiking any fee above the rate of inflation. However, when faced with these decisions, I often think of a Chinese proverb “A closed mind is like a closed book; just a block of wood.”

Without casting stones, inaction by previous councils has allowed our water infrastructure to seriously decay. This poor management is going to cost all of us a little bit more today because the cost of continued inaction is so much higher tomorrow – both for our pocket books and for our quality of life.

None of us are happy that so much of this burden is being placed on residents now and into the future rather than being spread over the past 20 years, but the time for second-guessing is a luxury we don’t have – we must act in order to help ensure this core service is protected for residents.

There is water and sewer infrastructure in the downtown dating to the 19th century. Should we continue to suffer massive disruptions to small businesses and commuters due to water main breaks? There is only one main water transmission line to Orléans. After a review, parts of it are degrading earlier than expected and are about the same age as the one that failed last year in Barrhaven. Should we ask Orléans residents to suffer a water ban, just as in Barrhaven or Riverside South? Or should we fix it?

Those of us who do not study history are condemned to repeat it, which is why we cannot run the risk of summer water bans in any community. We cannot continue to suffer massive water main breaks on busy downtown streets, closing businesses and causing commuter disruption. And we cannot continue to dump millions of litres of raw sewage into the Ottawa River.

Ottawans clearly asked their new council to lead and change the old ways of “idle governing.” Anything less, and we would be shrinking from our responsibilities.

Stephen Blais, City Councillor, Cumberland Ward