The Township of Cavan Monaghan owns the municipal water treatment and waste water process plant facilities that service the village of Millbrook.
It is their job to ensure that it operates efficiently, complies with regulations and develops the infrastructure required to ensure it meets the needs of the community. Rather than operate it with its own staff, Cavan Monaghan hires an accredited operating contractor to provide this service. Last month the township issued a Request for Proposal for a contract for the operation and maintenance of the municipal wells, water treatment, water distribution, standpipe, sanitary collection, pumping station and wastewater treatment plant operations to replace the current agreement which expires at the end of the year. On November 21st, Council awarded a five year contract in the amount of $2,015,513 to the Peterborough Utilities Services Inc. (PUSI), displacing the incumbent operator, Ontario Clean Water Agency, which has been running the plant for many years.
The recent RFP was tendered to allow the township to ensure they received competitive pricing for the new contract and to examine value added engineering and contingency items which are not covered in the current contract. Three firms bid, including the incumbent, the contract recipient and Aquatech Canadian Water Services. All three proposals underwent an extensive evaluation process conducted by a committee consisting of Mike Bingham, Senior Project Manager, Cambium Inc., Kyle Phillips, C.B.O. & Water/Wastewater Operator, and Wayne Hancock, Director of Public Works. During this process, Aquatech was disqualified as references confirmed that the firm did not meet several requirements. The remaining candidates scored so closely that the committee conducted interviews posing 12 predetermined questions in order to select the best operator. While both contractors offered strong proposals, PUSI ultimately secured the contract because they assigned higher levels of staff coverage than its competitor at a slightly lower cost. They also distinguished themselves in their discussion of asset assessments and future investment requirements.
In a surprising turn of events, the contract decision was ultimately removed from the hands of Council and the committee because representatives of OCWA breached a condition of the RFP which expressly prohibits applicants from contacting staff or council involved in the selection process during the review process. Last week representatives of the firm contacted Council members regarding the contract; a move that effectively precluded them from receiving it.
The annual cost of the water and wastewater operations is financed exclusively through user fees. The cost of the operation under the present OCWA contract is $369,938.40 for 2016 and will rise by 6.5% under the new contract in 2017. The increase to the annual operations under this contract will be 6.5% in 2017. KG