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Buffalo Pound plant had successful 2021 despite pandemic’s challenges, CEO says

President/CEO Ryan Johnson presented the water treatment corporation's annual report during the recent council meeting.
Johnson, Ryan 2
Ryan Johnson, president and CEO of the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant Corporation, speaks to city council. File photo

Despite the pandemic’s ongoing challenges, the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Corporation (BPWTC) met all the regulatory requirements and criteria necessary to produce safe drinking water for the region last year.

Furthermore, the organization ended the fiscal year with a surplus of $150,000, most of which came from excess water sales due to 2021 being hot and dry. However, that surplus will cover the planned deficit this year of $195,000.

Those were some highlights from the corporation’s annual report, which city council received during its recent regular meeting. Ryan Johnson, president and CEO of the corporation, presented the document to council.

The BPWTC developed its first environmental strategic plan last year, which features six goals, he said, including:

  • Using 100-per-cent renewable power
  • Increasing energy interdependence and de-carbonizing its backups systems
  • Developing resource-conscious maintenance and operations programs and procedures
  • Minimizing content of sludge disposal
  • Being recognized as a leader in low-carbon emissions and wastewater discharge
  • Encouraging public engagement in education and sustainable water management resource conservation

The company developed its 2022 operating budget as an almost status-quo document, although it made minor adjustments to account for inflation, Johnson continued. Meanwhile, the board decided not to increase water rates this year and to maintain them at last year’s levels. That is why there will be a planned deficit of $195,000.

“Overall, the water capital rate increase was zero (per cent) for 2022. The total cost of water sold to the cities (of Regina and Moose Jaw) is 61 cents per cubic metre,” he said. “This accounts for about 40 per cent of the City of Moose Jaw’s cost of water for the variable rate.”

The corporation will adjust the water rates once the plant renewal project is completed and actual costs are known, Johnson continued. However, future rate increases will be tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as much as possible for the foreseeable future. 

The BPWTC’s capital projects continued throughout 2021, and even with disruptions from COVID-19, all those initiatives were either completed or remain in progress, he said. The $225-million plant renewal project represents most of the corporation’s capital spending.

The organization developed its capital water rates based on the expectation that it would receive $163.4 million in federal Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) grant funding and $60 million in debt.

“The project, once complete, will address the current risks, ensure sustainability of the water supply to the cities of Regina and Moose Jaw and region, provide resiliency for climate change and meet the growth demands of the region up to about the year 2050,” Johnson added.

The next regular council meeting is Tuesday, May 24.