Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Tom Gosnell was upset too until he realized his neighbourhood wasn't affected

The raw sewage continues to flow into the Thames River and a boring machine remains lodged in shit. City staff will do better next time - it takes million dollar mistakes to make it all right! The increased sewer tax will compensate for bureaucratic bumbling. Doesn't matter if it isn't fair:

A botched sewage project has drained nearly $1 million from London's public coffers.

That was the tab to taxpayers to patch a road, redirect a sewer and extract a borer stuck for more than a year in a collapsed tunnel south of the CN rail yard in east London.

The worst may be yet to come. The city has spent $4 million on the sewer project but hasn't begun to tackle its most expensive element, burrowing under 22 sets of tracks.

"This has turned into a nightmare," Ward 4 Coun. Bill Armstrong said yesterday.

The original plans put the cost of tunnelling at $2.35 million, but Armstrong fears the actual cost could be double or triple that estimate.

While the cost of the project remains in doubt, this is certain: Until the city builds a storm sewer under the tracks, the aging sewers that combine sewage and storm water will cause problems.

The combined sewers cause sewage to back up into basements of low-lying homes in neighbourhoods north and south of the CN yard.

Storms can overwhelm the Vauxhall storm water treatment plant.

In a typical year, sewage bypasses full treatment and goes into the Thames River 40 to 50 times, city staff say.

Work on the new sewer started in September 2003, but stopped in the middle of the intersection of Pine and Oak streets when the borer became stuck in sandy soil in March 2004.

The borer remained there for more than a year while city staff and a contractor disputed who would pay to fix the mess.

[..] Armstrong was also angered because staff said the failed project was based on a "calculated risk" intended to make the work cheaper.

"You don't take calculated risks with taxpayer money. City hall is not a casino," he said.

The outcome also upset Deputy Mayor Tom Gosnell, who thinks taxpayers were stuck with a bill because city staff were too involved with planning the project rather than leaving the work and the liability to contractors.

"It was an expensive lesson for us and it must not happen again," Gosnell said.
But of course it will, but for now, let us all engage in a group hug - be damned with tomorrow.

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