2M gallons of sewage for sale

| 18/10/2010

(CNS): The government is hoping for an early Christmas present this year as it aims to finally offload the country’s sewerage system by 10 December. The long promised plan to sell the country’s wastewater services begins today (Monday 18 October) with the official opening of the request for proposals from the private sector on dealing with wastewater over the next 25 years. Although government has suggested it may privatise all of the government owned Water Authority, this proposal request is limited to the maintenance and provision of sewerage services only. The successful bidder will gain exclusive ownership of this part of the government company under licence and will be expected to expand the existing system to meet the country’s future needs.

The sewage treatment plant currently collects and treats 2 million gallons of wastewater every day, as well as a further 20,000 gallons of waste collected from septic tanks. The sewage flows with the help of gravity and several lift stations through 12.5 miles of pipes including 2.5 miles of force mains.
In the public advertisement for the sale of the system the Water Authority states that eligible companies must have no less than ten years experience providing wastewater service for a population of at least 60,000 and demonstrate their ability for independent finance without the need for government guarantees.
(The RFP is not yet on either the Water Authority or Central Tenders website. However, according to an advertisement in the press, the tender No is CTC10-11/WO/015.)
Government has been promoting its intention to sell the sewerage system since taking office in May 2009. When the bond document to raise over $300 million was issued last year, the sewerage system was listed as one of government’s assets that it intended to sell and the book price as of June 2009 was valued at around US$23.3 milllion. However, it appears that to date there has been no significant interest in the purchase of the sewerage system.
More recently, backbench MLA Cline Glidden revealed that government was considering selling the whole of the Water Authority on a 25-year lease following an unsolicited offer. Although Glidden did not reveal the details, it is understood the offer had come from Consolidated Water, the private company which supplies water to West Bay customers.
Glidden used the private firm as an example of how much money government could earn from water if the authority was privatised. He said it pays out some $8 million to its shareholders each year but government, the only shareholder in the Water Authority, did noteven receive ten percent of that. Glidden said that if government went ahead with the leace arrangement, it would still own the entity and regulate the authority.
The suggestion that the Water Authority could be privatised, however, raised concern among workers over job loses. The opposition also noted that, as one of the government’s most profitable entities and valuable assets, the offer would have to be very high to a make it worthwhile. PPM member Alden McLaughlin said that a one-off upfront payment may seem attractive to put cash in the treasury but he wondered where government would go from there.
“It may be an attractive proposition to government now to take in a lump sum, but what happens the year after and the year after that?” he asked rhetorically, noting that the jobs and the low price of water also offered a valuable contribution to the local economy. He said the authority was one of the few government owned entities that was profitable and did not put a strain on government and actually added to the coffers each year. “I remain to be persuaded that this will be beneficial to government in the long term and we would have to be concerned about the local jobs as the Water Authority employs a lot of Caymanians, and many in very senior posts.”
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  1. Rorschach says:

    So there is so little of anything left of value in Cayman that we are forced to resort to trying to sell our $hit???

  2. Anonymous says:

    Whomever the lucky purchaser is will undoubtedly be burdened with the cost of fixing the West Bay gravity sewer line which is leaking like a sieve. Just wait till a prospective buyer does their own valuation survey. Letting in all that salty ground water into the sewer must make for a costly maintenance program. Doesn’t help with the efficient treatment of the sewage either. I’d hedge a bet that the treated effluent doesn’t even meet their own discharge standards, and fat chance of getting that info under the FOI.

    No wonder no one wants to buy a lame duck for Christmas!

  3. One for you. Two for me. says:

    It’s quite possible the only real solution is to privatize government in whole in order to become profitable.  An incredibly radical idea you say?  When you consider government’s main function is to extract funds from the private sector, skim whatever is necessary off the top in order to support a burdensome and inefficient bureaucracy and redistribute the remainder, of which at present is running in deficit this does not seem so far-fetched.  It’s business, it’s our business.  Name an aspect of enterprise… including it’s monopolies the government has undertaken which has ever shown a sign of becoming profitable.

  4. peter milburn says:

    Not too sure where all that "treated"sewage goes afterwards (deep wells possibly?) but in many places all over the world that water is used on golf courses.I believe that our local courses(what little we have left),spends upwards of US$500,000-US$750,000. on watering the course.This could be worked out I am sure at some expence but in the long run piping that water over to the two excisting courses would save a huge amount of money.and would help to keep our environment cleaner.Just a thought but maybe worth looking into?

    • Anonymouse says:

      Our sewage water has been used for watering golf courses for msny years now. The Brittania golf course is one that I personally know uses the treated sewage for watering.

      • Anonymous says:

        I like the way many people "personally know" things that are in fact NOT happening.

        There are several problems with using "grey" water for watering golf courses. First and foremost, a new pipe system would have to be installed and that would have to be physically separated from the "potable" water system and the costs would be huge. This means that the golf courses would have to sign some sort of long-term commitment to make it feasible. The golf courses would really prefer to desalinate their own water for watering the golf course, and of course they would also want to use the water they produce as their potable source as well.

        The second problem with the sewage is the high ingress of sea water into the sewage system. Estimates are that about 50% of the water coming into the sewage treatment plant is salt water that leaks into the pipes. This means the sewage plant would effectively have to desalinate the "poop" and it is cheaper just to use the existing water production facilities.

        The west bay sewer lines need maintenance and politicians over the years have refused to allow the huge expense required to fix the leaks, and that is one of the reasons McKeeva just wants to sell the whole lot.

        • Anonymous says:

          Thank you 15:57! The saline content is so high it can only "kill" vegetation. The system is "overbuilt" to accommodate the high levels of salt water from the broken pipes along SMB.

          Sad how some people "personally know" very factually what is really happening.

          • Anonymous says:

            I wanted to add that the high salinity of the sewage intake due to saline groundwater ingress causes key components of the treatment facility to corrode. Anyone buying this plant will need to take into account the replacement of expensive parts on a regular basis.