Water woes

Published: Monday 30 September 1996

troubled by fiscal constraints to operate their water systems, local authorities in Canada are opening their doors to foreign expertise to bail them out. Private water companies from France, us and uk are all making a beeline for Canada in the hope of profiting from ventures there.

One such private sector company to have won a contract to build and operate a us $25.5 million water treatment plant in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is tap , a consortium led by ch 2 mH ill, a Colorado-based company and bc Gas, a Vancouver-based company. tap will own the plant for 20 years after which it will be returned to the local authority. On similar lines, is a venture between uk 's North West Water and Consumers Gas, Ontario's biggest natural gas distributor which will look into possibilities of averting a water shortage in the York region, a major town north of Toronto.

Water and sewerage projects in local areas have so far been financed from tax revenues and debt reliefs. But with lesser grants from higher authorities and public opposition to increasing taxes, the local municipalities find themselves in a bind. Leasing out projects to outside bidders is seen as one way of getting out of the predicament.

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