The city’s Engineering and Works Committee will wait two more weeks before deciding whether to spend up to $30,000 to hire a consultant.
Committee chairman Tom Mason moved the recommendation at Monday night’s committee meeting of council, after hearing a report from Peter Bullock, the manager of environmental services, regarding two loss of water incidents in the CFB North Bay/Airport Road area in April and May.
Loss of pressure
Both incidents led to drinking water advisories issued by North Bay Medical Officer of Health Dr. Catherine Whiting.
The first was caused when a loss of pressure occurred due to the emptying of the CFB reservoir.
A communications line between the CFB reservoir and the Ellendale Reservoir failed, Bullock’s report stated, “and consequently the signal to initiate pumping was not given causing the CFB reservoir be emptied.”
A programming malfunction in the Supervisory, Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system did not alert the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA), which operates water facilities for the city, of the communications failure between the two reservoirs.
One of Bullock’s recommendation is to retain a consulting firm at a cost of up to $30,000 “to expand the scope of their review of the city SCADA system required for the integration of the new water plant SCADA to a full review on the status and future direction required to provide a complete strategic plan for the city’s entire SCADA system.”
Bullock also recommended a request for proposals be prepared for engineering services “for an assessment and future needs plan for the city’s CFB pumping station and reservoir.”
Had a problem
But Mason said more information about the loss of water incidents was required before any more money is spent or consultants hired.
“I think we’ve had a problem, that’s the first thing we have to recognize. We had a failure, not just of the regular water supply, but also of the emergency water supply. The safety net failed. What I’m looking for tonight is a report to find out why it failed, what we can do to make it better,” Mason said.
He also wants to know what the failure cost “in terms of North Bay city employees, the labour costs our equipment costs, what did that cost the taxpayer.”
“And,” Mason said, “I would also like to explore what was OCWA’s role in it was and what was the city’s role in it, so I’d like to look at it from both sides and come up with some accurate information we can make a decision on.”
Why it failed
Mason said he isn’t a lawyer and is no position to assess liability.
“My issues here is not to point fingers or throw stones, my issue is to simply find out what happened and come up with a plan so it doesn’t happen again,” Mason said.
“When something fails, obviously something’s gone wrong, and that’s what I want to get to the bottom of. I want to find out why it failed and come up with a solution to prevent it from happening again. that’s what we’re looking for.”
The committee has requested a further report that would answer Mason's questions, before proceeding on the matter.