Smithers Begins Water Disinfection Program

Smithers residents may notice a chlorine smell coming from the municipal water supply.

The town has begun implementation of a substantial disinfection of its two reservoirs and its water distribution system today, in an effort to eliminate bacteria from the system.  

The town issued a boil-water notice on September 1st, after coliform bacteria appeared in the municipal water supply.

Mayor Taylor Bachrach says town attempted to remove the contamination by chlorinating the system in the same way it does each spring, but that didn't eliminate the problem.

"And so what we're doing starting today (Tuesday) is that we're going to be shocking the system with a much higher concentration of chlorine than we've used in the past and the hope is that that's going to take care of any bacteria that's remaining in the pipes, and we'll be able to get some clean samples and Northern Health will let us lift the boil water notice."

In the short term, Smithers residents will notice a chlorine smell coming from their taps, and Bachrach says they should continue to boil water and then let it cool before using it for drinking or cooking, "but most of all I want folks to know that we're doing everything we can to get things back to normal, and certainly we appreciate everyone's patience through this."

Bachrach says there are no reports of anyone becoming ill from drinking water in Smithers, but he realizes the precautionary measures currently in place are causing problems for residents and businesses.

"Oh has it ever -- this is the first time in a lot of folks' memories that we've had a boil-water notice in Smithers, I don't know if it's the first time ever but it's certainly stressful and for businesses costly -- I talked to a business today that's going through about 30 bags of ice a day and people want to know how long it's going to be in place for, because they need to make contingency plans and the difficult thing is that we really don't know what it's going to take to lift the boil-water notice," he said.