A boil water advisory has been activated in the mid-island community of Ladysmith after an unexpectedly high level of turbidity – particles or cloudiness in water – was recorded in the town's reservoir Thursday.

The Town of Ladysmith says the turbidity is coming from a nearby waterway named "Chicken Ladder" entering the community's reservoir. The town says that water from Chicken Ladder can sometimes be high in turbidity at this time of year due to naturally occurring particles – such as bark, soil or sand – entering into the waterway from heavy winter precipitation. 

Ladysmith is now flushing all of the town's water mains and conducting further water tests Friday.

The town notes that the turbidity level in the community's drinking water is not overly high, but above Island Health's standards.

"The former Island Health standard for acceptable turbidity levels in drinking water was 5 NTUs," said the town in an update Friday. "The level is now 1 NTU." 

"The source water in Chicken Ladder was above 1 NTU but less than 2 NTUs at the time of the release."

Ladysmith says the two main sources of water for the town are Holland Lake and Stocking Lake, which are both low in turbidity. In total, the amount of higher-turbidity water that entered the town's reservoir is estimated to be just over 10 per cent of the reservoir's total volume.

"Town staff continue to work closely with Island Health on this matter," read the town's update.

Ladysmith adds that the town's new water filtration plant, which is specifically designed to manage turbidity, is expected to be in operation this spring.