Greater Sudbury will have to significantly boost spending on its water and sewer infrastructure or face a soaring number of watermain breaks, city council was told during its April 11 meeting.
Kevin Morawski of WSP Canada Inc. presented a plan for managing the city's water and sewer infrastructure. Morawski said more than half a billion dollars in upgrades are urgently needed over the next 25 years.
Morawski said 127.5 km of the city's 791 km of sewer infrastructure is past its life expectancy and needs to be replaced. And 184.5 km of the city's 997 km of watermains are in similar shape.
While that adds up to more than $500 million, he said another $703 million in infrastructure is approaching the end — last 25 per cent of their service life.
Plus there's a need for new infrastructure, he said, adding another billion.
“The total need over 25 years is $2.5 billion,” Morawski said. “The question is how much money is the right amount of money to invest in the system?”
The average 10-year spending on capital projects is $34 million a year, he said. Boosting that amount to $50 million a year would at least keep the number watermain breaks at the current level of about 100 a year.
“When assets go beyond their life expectancy, they require much more investment to maintain,” he said. “The costs of maintaining that asset begin to outweigh the costs ... to replace it.”
Mayor Brian Bigger said they have already made strides in increasing spending on infrastructure, including a 7.4 per cent increase last year.
And they have changed the way they do road projects, ensuring that road and water/sewer repair go hand-in-hand.
“We are focusing on the repair of the pipes under our roads,” Bigger said. “Our residents are keen to notice if we just repaved a road, then have to tear it up to fix the pipes.”
Staff will now bring forward a financial plan detailing how to address the needs outlined in the report. Actual spending decisions will come as part of the next municipal budget process.
Read the full report here.