Iqaluit’s tap water has been undrinkable for almost 2 months | Local News

Iqaluit’s tap water has been undrinkable for almost 2 months

| News Today | News Today

IQALUIT – In summer, the Sylvia Grinnell River near Iqaluit is a popular spot for arctic char fishing where icy water cascades over rock ledges.

Now, with thick layers of ice and snow covering the water flowing below, it has become one of the main sources of water in the capital of Nunavut for drinking and cooking.

The other comes in the form of thousands of plastic water bottles arriving by air.

It has been almost two months since Iqaluit’s tap water was declared non-potable. On October 12, the city declared a state of emergency when fuel was found in the water supply. Residents had complained that the water coming out of their taps smelled of fuel.

The city has since unearthed an old underground fuel tank from 1962, which was buried next to the sewage treatment plant and is believed to have been the source of the contamination.

Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell says he’s frustrated because the city’s tests have come back flawlessly since October 23, but the Government of Nunavut has the final say in lifting the no-consume order.

The city has installed an oil monitoring device, but the territory says it wants two. He also wants the city to build a system that would bypass the underground reservoirs of the water treatment plant.

Bell says these are important steps to prevent future problems, but he doesn’t think they should be related to the release of the order.

“It could take three weeks, could take a month, could take two months to build the bypass because of parts and labor and so on,” Bell said.

“It’s going to take time that we frankly don’t have.”

The city said it would cost $ 130 million to fix the problem in the long run and asked the federal government to pay for it.

Monitoring of the city’s water quality shows that between November 16 and 23, all sample results returned negative for petroleum hydrocarbons.

“The water is clean. These requirements are for a possible future event,” Bell said.

Throughout the emergency, the city continued to distribute bottled water to residents at various sites in the city.

But staff are tense, Bell says, and the city has had to close its gymnasium, swimming pool and two arenas to reassign workers.

“We’re offering $ 32 an hour to distribute water, but we’ve only hired a few people. We just need more people,” Bell said.

“We’re all tired. We were short-staffed long before this crisis. It’s crap for all of us.”

The city has asked the Government of Nunavut for additional hands, but Bell says the request was denied because the territory has its own staffing issues.

In a statement, the Nunavut Department of Health says it is still reviewing the city’s water quality ratings.

“The (Government of Nunavut) is awaiting confirmation from the contracted engineering firm that the site assessment and required corrective actions have been carried out to ensure that the risk of repeat contamination has been mitigated,” the statement said.

“The Department of Health is working closely with the third party to assess the City of Iqaluit Field Investigation Report.

The Nunavut Department of Community and Government Services, which hired the engineering firm, did not respond when asked for the name of the company.

The Canadian Armed Forces also arrived in Iqaluit on October 23 to collect and purify water from the Sylvia Grinnell River using a reverse osmosis system.

But the operation ended on November 22, when high winds toppled a military tent that protected the water purification system.

The military has since moved its system inside a hangar at the city’s airport and plans to truck the river water there for treatment. There is no timetable for restarting the operation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on December 3, 2021.


Local News abc News Iqaluit’s tap water has been undrinkable for almost 2 months

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