Alright. Levels of service. So levels of service, cost, and risk. And again this came out of the Road Maintenance Task Force work and one of the things we see are these three axes.
So levels of service, you can say, hey I’ve got this levels of service and it going to cost me here at this much. And over here, remember I said to you earlier the risk is often hidden. There’s risk.
And the problem is when we’re doing our planning, we can see this stuff. And we can talk about them to politicians and decision-makers and the managers and the community. What nobody can see generally is this, until it manifests itself.
In times of financial constraint, which we’ve been in, and right across and yeah sitting in the northern hemisphere and had a real walk at that recently.
What tends to happen is, oh I want to drop the dollar. I don’t want to spend this much. They drop your dollars and your levels of service start sliding down that axis, that change axis. But it takes a while.
We’re talking 5 years maybe a decade change because assets don’t change that quickly but they do start changing, be it roads, water supply or whatever. And these hidden risks start going up but you don’t know.
So, Flint. There’s a water supply in the US. And just to give you a very brief background. It used to be a major manufacturing hub of automotive manufacturing.
They used to dump all their waste products into the river beside the town, which was completely polluted. So, polluted that the auto manufacturers will not take water out of it for the manufacturing processes. So just keep that in your mind.
The town was taking its water from Detroit, which was taking its water from the Great Lakes. So really good clean water, but it was really expensive.
Auto factories were closing. Town’s down on its luck. People can’t pay for the water service. They are going into bankruptcy. So, the town council can’t deal with it. The equation just doesn’t work for them.
But they decide that the way to fix the problem is to create a regional water supply, that’s of different sources, that’s five or seven towns, and it’ll be half the price of Detroit water.
So, that will solve the problem and they can balance their books and everybody is going to be happy.
So, what they did is they went down that pathway and they didn’t renew their contracts with Detroit. But the trouble was the regional water supply got held up, both the permits and consents and everybody agreeing to it.
And they got in a situation where they got, no water is coming on this, this one is not ready. What are we going to do?
You know what they did, they decided that they are going to take the water out of the Flint River, which was highly polluted. And it was like that’s already a terrible idea and somebody decided it was a good idea.
So, they took this water and it was brown gloop but it was worse than that. The town has lead service lines coming in from water mains to the houses. It was that era in the US when they were using lead.
And the acidity of the water that they were taking out of the river released lead on the service lines. So without doing the sampling in that, they changed the condition. And then they started having all these kids starting to have lead poisoning.
And the trouble with lead poisoning, if you know anything about it is, once lead is in your system, as a human being, it never gets out and it causes brain retardation and learning difficulties. And these kids were mainly African Americans and lower socio, poor children basically. So to save money, they took water in that lead-poisoned poor children.
So politically, I mean the President of the US weighed in on this, the Senate and the Congress. Here this little town, in American terms, a very small town and you’ve got the President, the Congress, the Senate, the Governor, everybody weighing in on it.
But in terms of our discussion around asset management plans, so that’s that back story to it.
So in terms of our discussion, they dropped the level of service because they wanted to save money.
They had this risk and they crossed this threshold of safety and trust. And the cost there is going to be, I think they might have saved about 20 -30 million dollars for what they did.
And the cost will be a minimum of 500 million US dollars, it could be closer to a billion.
By the time they fixed the water supply, settle all the class sections, they now have lifelong health costs, somebody will have to pay for the people that we injured. Pretty expensive mistake.