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November 17, 2000
Toronto moving forward with major water services investment program
  
Works and Emergency Services (WES) -- Toronto is moving forward with
best practices at the City's Water and Wastewater Services Division. The best
practices program is a $160 million investment in the future of the City's
water services. The majority of the costs of this initiative involve replacing
and modernizing equipment and process control systems to ensure continued
reliable operation of the City's water and wastewater facilities.

With the implementation of state-of-the-art technology and processes, the best
practices program will make the Water and Wastewater Services Division
operations more efficient and cost effective. It's expected the division's
operating costs will be reduced by more than $50 million annually when the
program is fully implemented by 2004. The savings will be reinvested in
upgrading the piped infrastructure.

The introduction of new technology, organization and practices will ensure that
Toronto remains a world leader in water and wastewater operations and becomes
competitive with the world's best public and private operators. The City's
current high standards for water quality will be maintained or improved.

"The best practices program is an important and necessary investment in the
future of Toronto's water services," said Water and Wastewater Services General
Manager Michael Price. "This will ensure our ability to meet the demands of our
2.8 million customers, who expect top quality water services."

Staff will gradually move toward self-managed work teams that continuously
measure and improve the performance of plants, processes, maintenance and
operations of sewer and water infrastructure. Although this will result in a
smaller, more autonomous work force, every effort is being made to achieve
staff reductions through attrition, early retirement, redeployment and
voluntary separation packages.

The Water and Wastewater Services Division has just released two reports that
deal with Toronto's drinking water. The first is the quarterly water quality
report required by the new Ministry of the Environment Drinking Water
Protection Regulation, implemented as a result of the Walkerton tragedy.

The other report is the first annual review of water and wastewater services
and includes results of all water testing required by Council. The information
contained in these reports provides consumers with reasons to have a high level
of confidence in the safety and security of the drinking water quality. These
reports give today's baseline from which service levels can be measured and
progress monitored to ensure improvements over time. In the future, the
division will be reporting on the water quality found in the lake and rivers,
and discharged from sewage treatment plant outfalls.

Toronto is also taking a leading role in improving the water quality of the
City's rivers and Lake Ontario with the development of the Wet Weather Flow
Management Master Plan. This involves a major investment in the City's
waterfront, rivers and sewer infrastructure, in co-operation with the public,
agencies and neighbouring municipalities. It aims at treating stormwater as a
resource, dealing with it at source and capturing urban stormwater pollution,
such as oil, grease, dirt and other pollutants, before it reaches the water
bodies. The City's new Sewer Use Bylaw is just one of the tools for controlling
the pollution of creeks, rivers and Lake Ontario.

Backgrounder

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