The city council of Saint John, New Brunswick has chosen three consortia to bid on a $220 million (or likely closer to $255 million) contract for a new 100 million litre per day drinking water treatment plant, three 11 million litre storage reservoirs and other water transmission system improvements.
The Council of Canadians has been opposing privatized water in Saint John since October 2009. The Telegraph Journal reported at that time, "Water campaigner Meera Karunananthan said P3s are simply forms of privatization, arguing Saint John should not allow private companies to finance, own or operate water or wastewater services."
More recently, in February 2013, after it became clear the city would pursue a P3 for its drinking water system, our Saint John chapter organized a teach-in on the issue. The following month the chapter called on city council to delay its plans to apply to the federal P3 fund and instead of relying on the municipality's consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers seek an independent view from experts not in the business of advocating public-private partnerships. And in May the chapter organized a public meeting featuring Paul Groody, the commissioner in charge of Saint John Water for thirteen years before he retired in 2011. At that forum, Groody said the P3 would cost the city more in the long term and would lead to a lack of accountability and transparency in decision-making. Groody estimated that Saint John would pay $35 million more for the project than it would under a traditional tender.
Today, the Telegraph Journal reports that the three bidders for Saint John's drinking water system are:
Port City Water Solutions
- American Water would operate the system
- French-based Meridiam, an infrastructure fund company that specializes in public-private partnerships
- Bird Construction would be the lead construction company
- California-based Tetra Tech would do the engineering
- New Brunswick's Crandall Engineering would work with Tetra Tech on the design of the project
Port City Water Partners
- New York-based Brookfield Financial Corp., a global investment bank, leads this consortium
- Spain's Acciona Agua, which focuses on water treatment facilities
- North America Construction Ltd.
- AMEC Environment and Infrastructure
- engineering company Dessau Inc.
- Quebec's Simo Management Inc.
- FCC Construction
- local civil construction firm Gulf Operators
Port City Water Partnership
- Toronto-based Forum Equity Partners, a development and investment management firm, leads this consortium
- Colorado-based engineering company CH2M Hill (this company is also leading a consortium to operate Regina's new P3 wastewater treatment plant)
- Canadian Contracting
- Dillon Consulting
The Council of Canadians continues to oppose this P3 and are now additionally concerned by numerous corporations listed within these consortia.