Fixing Desalination Plant Won’t Avert 12% Rise In Water Charges

town hall 8Fixing the problems with the Council-run desalination plant won’t avert the planned 12% increase in water charges approved by the authority this week.

Councillors were told at Tuesday’s General Purposes meeting that a £100,000 overspend on the cost of producing drinking water on St Mary’s meant a rise in charges was inevitable.

Faulty boreholes feeding the plant, which was only opened in 2013, mean extra filters are having to be used, at a cost of up to £20,000 a month.

The solution, said Senior Manager for Infrastructure Craig Dryden, was to install a “direct sea intake,” taking saline water from the open sea rather than an inland well.

That would cost £300,000, he said, which would “wipe out” the current £388,000 sewerage reserves within a year.

But St Agnes councillor Richard McCarthy argued that investing in a ‘fix’ for thing that’s costing the most money would be a sensible way forward.

“It’s running much more expensively than anticipated…fifty to sixty thousand pounds a year more expensive,” said Richard.

There won’t be such a big deficit next year if we sort it, he said.

But Chairman of General Purposes Steve Sims said that “doesn’t make sense.”

He insisted that, even with the extra £30,000 generated from the price rise, it would take four years just to cover this year’s losses, even though on going running costs would be significantly lower once the problem was fixed.

Craig told members he was hoping Defra would allow them to install the new pipework using money given several years ago as part of a sewerage improvement grant for Hugh Town, but not yet spent.