Moncton's Water Quality, a Growing Economic Development and Location Attraction for Business and Residents

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"Nothing is more useful than water: but it will purchase scarce any thing; ... A diamond, on the contrary, has scarce any value in use; but a very great quantity of other goods may frequently be had in exchange for it" (Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, 1776 p.28)

The state of drinking water quality in Moncton during 2005, was a continuation of the progress the City of Moncton has made since 1999, when it launched one of Canada's most comprehensive water treatment facilities.

Moncton's decade of investment, steady enhancements, and technical accomplishment were on display in 2005 at seemingly two opposite ends of the process.

The most visible end for Moncton was the groundbreaking for a major new water consumer, an international brewing product. During the same period, the far less visible end was the ongoing underground renewal of the delivery pipelines under streets and sidewalk in the City's original residential areas.

The benefits of the first end, which is the recognized quality of the City's water supply occurred on a warm day in August, 2005, in Moncton's Caledonia Industrial Estates park, where a ground breaking ceremony and launch of construction was held for the multi-million dollar brewing plant for Molson's beer brands.

The Molson plant will be a major consumer of water for value added manufacturing and export under the company's retail brands. The new plant is targeted at the international export market. Molson's announced that this investment in new production in Moncton, was the first new plant constructed in over 50 years by one of the oldest established companies operating in Canada.

The topic of water as an element in the decision to choose Moncton over other North America locations was frequently mentioned by several of the dignitaries speaking during the announcement ceremony acknowledging the City's strategic thinking in developing water quality, as a component of future economic growth initiatives.

The second component end of Moncton's efforts at water quality was also visible to Moncton residents, and for most of the summer while the steel for the Molson's plant was being erected, Moncton's main artery, Mountain Road was blocked to traffic. This lengthy interruption in surface traffic flow allowed for an entire stretch of the original core of the city's main traffic artery to be excavated as work crews replaced old water lines and underground service utilities.

Monctonians are familiar with the steady construction pace and pave of the water delivery renewal process as the street disruptions spread across the City.

Every summer, since the 1999 opening of the new water treatment facility that purifies all of Moncton's water supply, large components of the network of pipelines and sub-street water lines have been renewed or replaced, as the City of Moncton follows an aggressive plan of enhancing all components of its water service to residents and business customers.

As Moncton, has found out to the benefit of significant number of manufacturing jobs, and expansion of the tax base from capital investment by industry looking for secure, safe water; water purity is a strategic tool in business re-location attraction.

And other communities in North America are awakening to the role of water as a tool for economic development. In one case in the US, one the nation's top university research laboratories and a State government, have identified water as the next significant must have component of site selectors looking for the right fit for their business clients seeking to re-locate.

Ron S. Faibish, Ph.D., who is the Director of Purdue University's Calumet Water Institute (PWI) and Chair of the Argonne Integrated Water Resource Management (AIWRM) Group of the world famous international Argonne National Laboratory of Illinois, says, "Moncton is well positioned and well ahead of major centers in using water as a advantage tool in economic development efforts".

"What the City of Moncton in trying to do makes a lot of sense. We in NW Indiana, located along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, see water resources as key to solving some of the regions major socio-economic problems. In fact, water is seen as one of the main drivers for a most needed future regional economic revitalization", says Faibish.

What Faibish explains about his area of focus in Indiana has a familiar ring to those involved in Moncton's 25 year effort at re-inventing itself as a municipality, by recruiting new growth business categories, as the older business engines of growth faltered and closed out.

Faibish says, that fundamental changes in the steel industry in northwest Indiana, which have occurred during the last 30 years, has resulted in a significant decline in manufacturing jobs.

This US mid-west region is now one of the most economically depressed regions in the country, and is in desperate need of economic transformation. The need is for new industries that create new jobs, revive the economy and improve quality of life. Fresh water from the great lakes represents the most significant natural resource in NW Indiana, explains Faibish.

Faibish, while initially unaware of the role of water renewal efforts in Moncton, and use of the latest in technology to assure the delivery of a consistently safe and superior water quality, was delighted to hear of Moncton's recent accomplishments in attracting national and international industry to the Atlantic region.

Faibish says, that "Moncton is a model of what the newly created Water Institute hopes to accomplish in the mid-west of the US".

He explains that his Water Institute will collaborate with the newly formed Purdue Technology Center in Merrillville, Indiana on technology incubation and commercialization efforts to create new start-up companies with water-related technologies.

In addition, the PWI will collaborate with Argonne National Laboratory and its Argonne Integrated Water Resource Management (AWIRM) Group on applied research that advances knowledge in water resources and supports regional economic development.

Faibish was asked to review the City of Moncton's 2005 Water System Report and he praised the City of Moncton for taking the initiative in addressing this growing and major element of a community's ability to recruit new business and to retain the business community that it already has in place.

"Water quality and secure supply, he says are increasingly important to those making decisions about future business investments in a community as a location", says Faibish.

Our focus (in Indiana), is on the role of water in all elements of community life, including drinking water and the reliability of supply. Water is something that communities do not necessarily think about until a problem develops.

He adds that increasingly decisions regarding the location of a business, either to remain in an area, or to re-locate to a region, are going to be influenced, if not made by the availability of water and the security as well as safety of the delivery of water purity to residents and business alike.

Water quality in North America is now a component of economic development decisions and hence the focus of our ongoing applied research and application development with Argonne Integrated Water Resource Management (AWIRM) Group to focus on making advances in knowledge concerning water resources and to support regional economic development.

"What your Water Quality Report illustrates in recounting the successful meeting of water purity standards for Canada and continuous testing of that water quality process is that your community understands the value of water. You understand it's value to future economic life, in your community, says Faibish, commenting on the Moncton water quality report.

The 2005 Water Quality Report for the City of Moncton, was prepared by Ensor Nicholson, P.Eng., Director of Water Systems, City of Moncton and affirms the reliable operation of Moncton's modern water filtering and treatment facility.

The annual report details the daily effort by Moncton's water management group to continue to enhance the quality of the delivery network to Moncton residents and customers.

What makes the report more interesting for Moncton is the placing in context by Faibish, of what it is like for communities that cannot offer the same type of report results and accounting of a steady process of civic investment.

Moncton's continuing Investment to deliver a clean, clear delivery network from the water processing plant to the tap at the residence or place of business, sets the community apart as a North American leader, explains Faibish.

He adds that in future years, this investment will set Moncton apart and his water research group will monitor Moncton's progress as a successful model for their economic efforts.

In early 2006, at the international Water Congress, Moncton's successful use of a public-private partnership to finance and operate the water treatment plant was recognized as a potential civic model for any community in the World.

Ensor Nicholson, P.Eng. Director of Water Systems Ph: 506-859-2667 Fax: 506-853-3543 e-mail: ensor.nicholson@moncton.ca

For More Information on the use of water in Economic Development and research on the role of water quality and supply, please contact Ron Faibish Bldg 208, Room E224 Argonne, IL 60439 T: +1-630-252-8355 +1-630-252-1671 F: +1-630-252-4500 rfaibish@anl.gov

April, 2006