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Power restored to Nanaimo water treatment plant

Last Updated Dec 21, 2018 at 8:56 pm PST

(Source: iStock)

NANAIMO (NEWS 1130) – Power has been restored to Nanaimo’s water treatment plant after it was shut down during Wednesday’s windstorm.

The plant is running but not yet at full capacity, and the city is asking residents to continue to conserve water.

Residents of the City of Nanaimo could be hours away from losing access to clean water.

The city could be forced to issue a boil water advisory if mechanical problems at the water treatment plant are not repaired.

Nanaimo’s water treatment plant had lost electricity — although the emergency generator was running — following a powerful windstorm that left thousands without power. But, during the power outage, there were some mechanical issues in the plant itself, and some equipment would not re-start.

The City of Nanaimo has been urging residents to stop using water and conserve it for emergency use as they work to fix problems at the plant, and for BC Hydro to restore full power.

If people don’t stop using water as normal, they could be hours from running out of treated water.

RELATED: Thousands still in the dark as B.C. recovers from powerful windstorm

Bill Simms, Director of Engineering and Public Works, says the city is hopeful they’ll be able to keep the plant running at a minimal capacity to keep clean water flowing into the city. But the problems need to be resolved, and power fully restored, quickly.

“The absolute worst case scenario is that if we cannot solve this problem within a timely manner, we may need to bypass the water treatment all together, and that would mean a boil order,” he says in a video posted on Twitter. “We are trying our hardest to avoid that situation because that creates a lot of complications. But some water for firefighting is better than no water at all.”

The water is safe to drink, but the city is asking people not to use it, and leave it available for firefighting.

“The water is safe to drink if you need to drink it, but please, don’t flush toilets, don’t do laundry, try to avoid bathing if you possibly can,” Simms says.

Nanaimo has also shut down municipal pools and arenas because they are major water consumers.

This morning, Simms said they were hours away from losing water.

“If we lose complete production and consumption stays at a high level, then we have several hours of water available,” he said.

As a result, the city is asking residents and businesses to refrain from using water until further notice.

Despite having a generator, the city says the functionality within the plant is still affected.

Simms said staff are working with BC Hydro crews to get everything working again, but it’s unclear how long that could take.