Smithers is taking some steps to improve the water at the airport.
At last week’s council meeting, councillors voted in favour to authorize staff to apply for grant funding for the Smithers Regional Airport Water System Upgrade Project, for both the immediate and short term phases.
The grant application would be for almost $2.5 million.
Council also voted to support the project and committed $600,000 for the town’s portion of the project. They directed that share of the project to be funded from the Town’s Northern Capital and Planning Grant Reserve and any cost overruns and ineligible costs to come from the town’s unrestricted surplus.
At the meeting the director of operations Chris Lawerence said the airport’s water system is one small accident away from being unoperational.
In a report to council, he also said the airport water system is aging, undersized and not meeting current water quality, reliability or safety criteria.
The engineering consulting firm WSP examined the current system and provided recommendations for required updates. They broke the needed upgrades into four different stages: immediate; short-term; medium term; and long term.
The immediate stage includes planning and design and construction of a new well with the same capacity of the existing well and review of the town’s fire flow bylaw requirements. This upgrade provides redundancy and reliability to the current system and should be completed in 2022. This stage comes with a $644,460 price tag.
The short-term plan includes constructing new control and treatmeant building to accommodate treatment plant upgrades; upgrade the WTP systems; install civil works including site grading and piping connections to wells, existing large cistern and distribution systems and once the new treatment system is online, upgrade well pumps to capacity required to meet future demands and decommission the old buildings and equipment. This upgrade will allow for effective and reliable treatment, disinfection and electoral controls to provide for future water domestic demands to the airport area. This estimated cost of the stage is $2,413,000.
The medium term upgrades should be done in the next five years and the long term upgrades in the next 20.
The Union of BC Municipalities has a grant funding opportunity for capital infrastructure upgrades. Town staff are planning to move forward with the immediate upgrades regardless of whether the broader project is selected for funding.
If the Town is unsuccessful with the grant application, the immediate upgrades will be funded through the Town’s Northern Capital and Planning Grant.