We were heartened by the latest round of contracts signed to advance the much-delayed sewerage project in East End/Long Look, where residents have long suffered from untreated waste running in the streets.
We are also guardedly optimistic about parallel efforts to restart the treatment system at Burt Point and stop flushing untreated sewage directly into the ocean.
But given the 50-year history of public money wasted on failed sewerage projects, leaders will need to remain laser focused to fulfill their promises to get both systems up and running within the coming year.
To that end, we urge them to comprehensively evaluate their approach to delivering a modern sewer system and to fully articulate those plans to an understandably sceptical public.
For decades, after all, mistakes and delays have been legion as political machinations and other issues stalled sewage work.
Some progress finally came after government awarded a no-bid infrastructure contract to the United Kingdom-based company Biwater in 2010. Though the lack of transparency surrounding that deal was scandalous, Biwater completed two sewerage treatment plants around five years later: one at Burt Point and one in Paraquita Bay.
The plant at Burt Point briefly operated at partial capacity before Hurricane Irma knocked it offline in 2017.
But the plant at Paraquita Bay was never commissioned because government never completed the sewage lines and other works needed to connect it to East End. That work is now in progress, and Communications and Works Minister Kye Rymer has suggested the EE/LL system will come online next year.
This good news was backed up by the $5.9 million in contracts that government inked on Oct. 11 with Toshiba Water Solutions America.
The company is contracted to manage and operate the Paraquita Bay treatment system for seven years and build an associated sludge disposal plant. Complementary work on a pumping facility in Long Swamp — another important component of the EE/LL project — kicked off in June.
Meanwhile, Biwater was awarded a $2.6 million contract last year to repair the Burt Point plant, which is expected to come back online in the coming weeks.
We were reassured by Mr. Rymer’s claim in February that the EE/LL work had been delayed in part because government was closely following procurement regulations, which include detailed planning, competitive bidding and other sensible practices. Such delays are acceptable if they ensure the project gets done right.
For decades, successive governments have been flushing taxpayers’ money down the drain as they played politics with sewerage.
The current administration must do better. Far better.