Environment and Climate Change Canada has issued the Town of Smithers a written warning for violations of the Fisheries Act at the town’s Wastewater Treatment Plant (WTP).
According to the warning letter, dated April 30, 2020, the town is in violation of exceeding the authorized concentration of suspended solids in the effluent (25mg/L) and carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand concentrations (CBOD) of deleterious substances, also exceeding the 25mg/L allowable limit. In 2017 the average CBOD concentration for the Smithers WTP was 47.7mg/L.
Information gathered in January 2020 for the report confirmed average concentrations of total suspended solids (TSS) within the effluent were 32.5 mg/L in 2015, 37.0 mg/L in 2016, 35.5 mg/L in 2017, 33.1 mg/L in 2018 and 41.4 mg/L in 2019.
The town is in violation of submitting annual monitoring reports late for those years.
According to the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations, the town, if convicted, could face a fine for a first offence of not less than $500,000 and not more than $6 million.
At a closed meeting on June 8, Smithers council authorized the release of the ministry correspondence to the public regarding these violations as a requirement for the town’s 2020 Financial Audit.
The town also released to the public the following motion from the closed meeting held regarding the Aug. 11, 2020 correspondence.
Council directed staff to commence the upgrade to the town’s wastewater treatment system immediately with funding coming from the Utility Surplus Reserve and to apply to the Rural and Northern Infrastructure Program under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.”
“The Grant was applied for October 22, 2020, with the expectation of hearing back from the federal government by this summer,” said Mark Allen, director of development services for the Town of Smithers.
“At this point, the town has corrected getting the monitoring reports in on time, and have done as much as we can, until we hear about the infrastructure grant to move forward.”