The City of Dawson Creek faces a greater risk of making the wrong decision about water safety than it does from not having water to pump to citizens, according to a risk manager hired by the City.
Jack Gordon, a risk management consultant from Calgary-based firm Sigma Risk Management, gave a presentation to City Council on Monday about the various risks, ranging from provincial economic changes to environmental changes.
"(A wrong water supply decision) is arguably the City's largest risk," Gordon’s report states. "(City staff directors) consider the best and only mitigation strategy is properly and practically inform the stakeholders on all of the elements necessary for a quality decision."
The report was done with participation from a variety of municipal employees from the city, and various reports and information the city has written in the past.
Gordon also wrote that the risk profile is amplified because it is in areas of flood, a competitive job market, and the pressures of growth.
Currently, the City has set water security as its main priority for 2013. The council is currently debating whether to go with a reservoir designed to conserve water in drier seasons, or a more expensive pipeline that could cost up to $57 million that proponents say would provide a more stable source of water.
In Gordon's report, he defined ‘risk likelihood’ as the possibility that it would happen in the next three years and ‘economic impact’ as the costs it would place on the City either through insurance or other means.
According to Gordon's report, the decision about water security would be crucial. He wrote that the City faced an 11 per cent risk likelihood of making the wrong decision in the next three years, and that the effects could be up to $40 million.
In comparison, the City faced a four per cent risk likelihood in the next three years that it could not provide water to its residents, either from drought or possible contamination of the Kiskatinaw River, which provides the city with its drinking water. The report defined it as a “remote” likelihood.
However, while the report measured risk for the next three years, proponents of the pipeline have said that it would provide a more long-term water security and advocates of the reservoir have also said that it would meet the long-term water needs of the city.
Kevin Henderson, the director of infrastructure and sustainability for Dawson Creek, who participated in the report, also said that an inadequate water supply would not include water restriction measures that would be placed on the city, as was the case last summer.
“At Stage 4 (water restrictions), we can still provide water for the community.”
Gordon also suggested some measures that would mitigate the council making the wrong decision by suggesting the City provide citizens proper information on the situation and the available alternatives.
The report did not advocate for either the pipeline or the reservoir as the correct choice.
It also provided information on what to do if the Dawson Creek ever had an inadequate water supply. Under current plans, the City would have to truck in water every day for four months, at a cost of $20 per cubic meter. The middle number between the highest and lowest impact costs, or median impact number, would be $9 million. This number works under the assumption that the city would have to truck in water for about four months.
In comparison, the possibility that Dawson Creek would face a flood was marked with a greater risk likelihood. The report measured the likelihood of this flood as either something that was likely to happen once in every 25 years, or a flood that was likely to happen once every 250 years. The City had a 10 per cent risk of the first type of flood happening in the next three years, while there was only a one per cent chance of the second type of flood happening.
If the once in 25-year flood happened, would cost $2.5 million. If the once in 250-year flood happened, would be $15 million.
“The risk owners – (the finance and infrastructure departments) – determined that most flood damage from a severe flood would be to the City’s bridges, culverts (including roadways) and associated water and sewer pipes),” the report states. “Pathways and the associated lighting in proximity to the creek would also be damaged.”
The costs included in Gordon’s report do not take into account insurance or disaster relief measures, as well.
The report also suggested certain mitigation factors for the flooding.
“There would still be some uninsured loss associated with a flood – cleanup, trees, landscaping, etc. – but purchase of insurance on the bridges, culverts and other property would decrease the impact of a 100-year flood from $15 million presently to an estimated $2 million,” the report states.
The council did not make any motions on the report when it was presented, but received it as information.
Dawson Creek Mayor Mike Bernier later said that any decision made about water security should not be based on emotions.
“I think what’s important is just trying to have the people more informed.”
The City hopes to receive input from citizens about the measure at their next public budget meeting. That meeting is scheduled for March 5 at the Kiwanis Performing Arts Centre (KPAC) on 1100 95th Ave.