Chlorination system completion expected for Chilliwack by the spring

It's been challenging to run a temporary system on a full-time basis, say city officials

There’s still some upgrading left to do on Chilliwack’s new $900,000 full-time chlorination system to increase bulk storage capacity.

But the changeover to a permanent water disinfection system is well underway and is expected to be completed by April or May of 2014, say city officials.

It’s been challenging to run a temporary system on a full-time basis.

The existing standby system did not have the bulk storage capacity, which meant it was onerous to keep the drinking water wells disinfected on a continual basis.

Once the upgrade is complete next year, it will be 90 per cent less labour intensive, since operators won’t be required to keep the wells treated with small amounts of chlorine to keep it running 24/7.

Crews have been physically and laboriously disinfecting drinking water wells around the clock since Fraser Health used its statutory powers forcibly impose the order last March, due to several e.coli readings.

“Lately I’ve been getting more calls from people about chlorination,” noted Mayor Sharon Gaetz.

Some wanted to know what they could do to mitigate the strong taste of chlorine, and she’s still telling them to try leaving the water in a container overnight in the fridge, or going the filtration route.

“At this point we’re just looking forward to having the whole system upgrade completed.”

The good news for users is the system upgrade won’t increase water user rates.

Water users share costs through a water fund, according to staff. Since the upgrade was covered by existing capital reserve funds, it means water-user rate increases will not be needed to pay for capital construction costs of the new system.

Many of the existing water system components are being incorporated into the full-time system, so the upgrades are mainly focused on increasing the capacity and automation to handle bulk quantities of sodium hypochlorite.

Initial estimates were for up to $1.5 million to switch from Chilliwack’s temporary, emergency chlorination system to a full-time disinfection system with more storage capacity.

But the new system designed by city consultant ended up with the lower cost of $900,000.