A water tower in Miramichi is at risk of collapsing, according to a report prepared for the city's department of public works.

The report states the tower on Williston Road has major structural problems. Chlorine stains show many places where water is seeping from the tower.

Jay Shanahan, the city's director of public works, says the findings came as a bit of a shock.

Jay Shanahan

Miramichi director of public works Jay Shanahan at the Williston Road water tower that has major structural problems. (Jessica Doria-Brown / CBC)

"It for sure is an alarm, but we do know we've inherited some problems of other areas and maintenance issues over the years," said Shanahan.

"It's to get a handle on where we're going, probably got moved up higher on the priority list sooner than we would have liked," he said.

"But it is part of operations. Those things do happen. We do have things that are unpredictable and it just gets out of our control."

Miramichi city council approved its capital budget Monday night and agreed to make repairs to the water tower a priority.

The estimated cost of repair is $1.2 million.

Shanahan said there is enough money in budget to cover the expense. But he says the city may have to drop some smaller projects or find other ways to pay for them.

Shanahan hopes nothing happens to the tower or the area's water supply while the city determines how to proceed.

"There is a concern if there's a high demand, or there happens to be a fire or something," said Shanahan.

"Hopefully by this time next year we'll be standing look at a new tower," he said.

People who live close to the tower are anxious to see the tower fixed.

"First priority, it is our water for this area," said Tyler Norrad. "If that goes all to … you know … there's nothing for this area."

Thelbert Savoy hopes repairs or replacement of the tower will improve the quality of his water, which he says is undrinkable because it tastes like chlorine.

"People are pretty annoyed about it," said Savoy. "Take a hot shower and you can smell the chlorine right in the lines."

Savoy says he gets his drinking water from a friend's well.