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Safe Clean Drinking Water Project

Project update -- July 21, 2014

Common Council approves Request for Qualifications (RFQ)
for Safe Clean Drinking Water Project

Project scope now includes wellfield on the City’s west side

Saint John Common Council has approved the release of the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) document for bidders interested the City’s Safe Clean Drinking Water project. The RFQ marks a significant milestone for the project.

“The RFQ tells industry that we’re on schedule, we’ve done our homework, examined our system and needs closely, and have taken the necessary steps to move to procurement,” says Mayor Mel Norton.

The City has assembled an experienced team and established a project office.  Dean Price is the Project Manager for this historic project which will be one of the largest of its type in Canada.

The City currently supplies surface water (from lakes) to its system users. Last year, the City began testing for groundwater (underground wells or aquifers) on both the East and West sides in an effort to reduce project costs as ground water costs less to treat. Tests did not support an adequate supply on the East side however, tests received back last month from the West wellfield indicated that there is enough water to supply groundwater to the west side. That water can be treated at the Spruce Lake Treatment Plant.
This means capacity at the East side plant can be reduced to 75 MLD (million litres per day) and that there is no need for some of the distribution and storage upgrades needed to supply East side water to the West side.

“From the beginning of this project, the City has been committed to finding for ways to deliver quality water and water service that is affordable for ratepayers. This latest development demonstrates our commitment,” says Dean Price.

This development will result in significant savings for the project.  Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) has refreshed the Business Case based on this information and the project shows value for money.

Procurement for the project will take place in two stages. The RFQ is the first stage and its purpose is to pre-qualify three bidders who will then respond to an RFP (Request for Proposals).

The RFQ containing the entire project scope is available on the Tenders and Proposals Page at: www.saintjohn.ca and through through the New Brunswick Opportunities Network (NBON).

On November 22, 2013, the Governments of Canada and New Brunswick and PPP Canada announced a combined investment of up to $114.6 million to the City of Saint John Safe Clean Drinking Water project. The federal government announced it is providing an up to $57.3 million non-repayable P3 Canada Fund contribution to the project while the Province of New Brunswick is providing an up to $57.3 million contribution through the Regional Development Corporation.

Under the proposed public-private partnership (P3) arrangement, project risks (including design, construction, financing, operations and maintenance will be transferred to a private partner, who will bear responsibility for any cost overruns and delays.

Project Update – July 7, 2014

The City of Saint John’s Safe Clean Drinking Water Project team continues to make significant progress on the project. The request for qualifications (RFQ) for potential project bidders will be released this summer. Further project updates, including the RFQ, will be published to the website, and included in reports to Saint John Common Council.

For more project information, see the links to Common Council reports below.

June 23, 2014 (page 253)
Governance Structure – The Drinking Water Project

June 23, 2014 (page 59)
Groundwater Supply Exploration Project Phase II, RFP for additional Production Scale Test Well Development

June 9, 2014 (page 84)
Easement Acquisition from Civic #1414 Hickey Road for Safe Clean Drinking Water Project (SCDWP)


Project Update – November 22, 2013


November 22, 2013: Governments of Canada and New Brunswick Announce Contribution to Saint John Safe Clean Drinking Water Project

About the Project

The City of Saint John is committed to providing all residents with safe, clean drinking water. As part of its mandate, Common Council has made safe clean, drinking water a key service priority over the next several months and years. This is the reason for the Safe, Clean Drinking Water Program (SCDWP).

The program includes the construction of a water treatment plant and upgrading a network of water mains and pipes. One of the key considerations of the program is the effect on rate payers.

On March 25, Common Council voted to submit a business case to P3 Canada in order to apply for eligible funding. You can find out more about P3 Canada here.

We encourage all Saint John residents to become informed about the process.

The "Resources" section on the right hand side of this page  contains links to associated Council presentations and reports.

Learn more about Saint John Water

About Saint John Water's Infrastructure

Saint John Water Annual Report (begins on page 37)

Frequently Asked Questions


Why is the City doing this project?

The goal of the Safe, Clean Drinking Water Program (SCDWP) is to ensure that every citizen of Saint John has access to safe, clean drinking water. Like many cities across North America, Saint John’s water system is aging and in need of updating. The City of Saint John is looking at ways of updating the system in order to achieve:

  • Public health: ensuring good water quality that meets current and future water standards
  • Technological upgrades: improved measurement of water use, minimizing leaks in the system and increasing storage
  • Public safety: ensuring adequate water supply for fire protection
  • Environment conservation: instilling water use practices that encourage conservation

 

What is a PPP or P3 project?

PPP or P3 stands for Public-Private Partnerships. It is one of several procurement methods used in New Brunswick, Canada and around the world. It is a type of contractual agreement between a government agency and a private sector entity (like a contractor), which allows for greater private sector participation in the delivery of public infrastructure projects. Using a PPP or P3 model means:

  • One single entity (or contractor) is responsible for project design, build and financing
  • Project financing must include the cost of design, build, operation and maintenance over a long-term period (defined by the government agency)
  • Private sector finances the project design and construction costs
  • Private sector is paid based on its actual service performance, as defined by the government agency


If we use a PPP or P3 model for this project, does it mean our water will be privately owned?

No, our water would not be privately owned. The City’s watershed supplies are the property of the Government of New Brunswick and the City has the right to use the water for the purposes of the water utility, and using a PPP or P3 model would not change this.


If we use a PPP or P3 model for this project, does it mean our new water treatment facility will be privately owned?

Under a PPP or P3 agreement, a private sector partner would be required to design, bid, build, finance, operate and maintain the water treatment facility for a concession period of 30 years. The water quality being received by the water treatment plant as well as water quality exiting the plant would be outlined and agreed upon in the PPP or P3 contract. Under a PPP or P3, the private sector partner would not gain ownership over any component of the water system. In either a traditional or a PPP procurement agreement, the City would always maintain full ownership over all water-related infrastructure throughout the procurement and concession period.


If we use a P3 does it mean the pipes will be privately owned?

Under the proposed PPP alternative outlined in the City’s Business Case to PPP Canada, a private sector partner would be required to undergo a traditional procurement process for the City’s water utility pipes (design, bid and build). Under this arrangement, the private sector partner would not gain ownership over any component of the water system. In a traditional and PPP procurement agreement, the City would always maintain full ownership over all water-related infrastructure throughout the procurement and concession period.


Who would set water rates under a PPP or P3 model?

Under a PPP or P3 model, setting water rates will remain the responsibility of Saint John Common Council.


If the City does this work, does that mean there will be no more pipe breaks or boil orders?

Water main or water pipe breaks occur for various reasons, but the most common reasons include, soil movement, freezing and thawing, aging pipes, water hammer and pressure surges, internal and external corrosion, traffic loads, and construction around water pipes.  During a typical year there are between 80 and 100 water main breaks and a very small number result in boil orders. The most common reason for a boil water order (affecting a large number of citizens) from a water main break is when a water transmission pipe fails and the water pressure drops significantly. And when water pressure is too low the potential for contaminates from outside the water pipe to enter the pipe exists.  The proposed projects within the SCDWP, include the water treatment plant as well as the refurbishment and replacement of large water transmission pipes. These projects will not completely eliminate the exposure to pipe breaks and boil water orders, but it is certainly expected to dramatically decrease such occurrences.  


What funding are we eligible for from PPP Canada and the Province?

Under the PPP or P3 process, the City is eligible for funding from both the federal and provincial governments. Through PPP Canada, the City is eligible for up to 25 % of construction costs and other costs associated with the 18 high impact and critical projects under the SCDWP. The Government of New Brunswick has agreed to match PPP Canada’s funding in the event the PPP or P3 process proceeds.