Our Infrastructure & Water

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It's our most fundamental resource: water.

After another year of watering bans - something must be done to fix the water supply problem. A plan to draw water from the lake is just one long term solution among others. Furthermore, the plan will not be executed within the mandate of this or the next council(2017-2021). A steering committee to look at long term solutions will be formed and this is a positive development. As mayor, I would bring the wealth of experience I have in water management issues to the table both locally and regionally.

In 2009, I was one of the founding directors of our regional watershed council, COBAVER-VS. I continued to be an active member of the board up until my election to the 41st parliament. I advocated for good management practices of the Viviry valley watershed, whose headwaters are in St-Lazare and Vaudreuil-Ouest. As a team we worked toward developing a regional Master Plan for water known as the Plan directeur de l'eau (PDE). I'm proud of the work I did with the watershed council.

I was chosen as a founding director because of my training. I learned watershed management from a gentleman who wrote the textbook on land use planning, William M. Marsh. He taught me site-adaptive planning, more specifically planning in watersheds. I know the range of solutions available to us as a town. Town scribe, Jim Duff, has oft repeated that development is an administrative process and not a political one. He is entirely correct. However, a knowledgeable mayor is able to frame the process so that good projects get green lighted and fast-tracked while others are halted in their tracks. Development should never be "anything goes" or "developer decides". This is especially true when we are planning around water systems.

The initial cost of infrastructure is about 20% of the life cycle cost; the other 80% is a future unfunded liability. That means that a water treatment plant designed to draw water from the Lake of Two Mountains at 12-15 million dollars will actually have a life cycle cost of 60 to 75 million dollars. We can't go it alone. The cost would have to be shared with neighbouring municipalities. Let's let the steering committee continue the good work started by the citizens action group and test the feasibility of the idea. I will not impede the work that has commenced. 

There are other solutions however that may be less costly in the long run and I would like the committee to look at these as well. Site adaptive planning incorporate green infrastructure, a burgeoning field of practice that uses natural systems to solve infrastructure issues. This is no fringe idea. In the final years of the Obama administration, policy was put into place to incorporate "green" or "natural" infrastructure into federal decision making. Key to this is improving percolation rates.  Strategies to get this done is reducing stormwater runoff rates so that more water gets absorbed by the aquifer. 

A Nicholls administration would incorporate water-sensitive urban design in future planning and development. In doing so we can protect our most precious resource and ensure that it will serve generations to come. It's entirely possible. Sustainable management of our town means taking care of our water systems.

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