Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut August 23, 2016 - 4:00 pm

E. coli found in Nunavut community’s water system

Sanikiluaq continues to see high sodium levels in drinking water

The GN says E. coli has been found in Sanikiluaq's water system, prompting a boil water advisory for the community of 850. (FILE PHOTO)
The GN says E. coli has been found in Sanikiluaq's water system, prompting a boil water advisory for the community of 850. (FILE PHOTO)

Sanikiluaq’s water woes continue this summer, with the recent detection of E. coli bacteria in the community’s water system.

The E. coli is not in the larger water supply, said the Government of Nuvaut’s health department, but the bacteria has been detected in two different locations in the community of 850 people.

As a precaution, the GN is asking residents of Sanikiluaq to boil their tap water before consumption.

Escherichia coli, called E. coli for short, refers to a large group of bacteria commonly found in the intestines of humans and animals.

Most strains of the bacteria are harmless, says the Public Health Agency of Canada, but some strains can make people sick, causing severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting.

In rare but serious cases, exposure to the bacteria can cause kidney failure.

But the only tap water that should be consumed after boiling is what comes from the new reverse osmosis taps the GN installed in Sanikiluaq households earlier this summer.

The filters were installed to help offset high sodium levels detected in the community’s water since the month of June.

Community and Government Services installed 215 reverse osmosis filters over the summer months, while another 18 are still to be installed. CGS also helped equip public buildings with water dispensers, with filtered water supplied by the local Northern Store.

In an effort to avoid an E.coli infection, residents with those new taps should bring water to a rolling boil for at least one minute before they use the water for drinking, preparing infant formulas, juices or ice cubes, or for washing, cooking or brushing teeth.

But the GN is asking Sanikiluaq residents not to drink water from regular taps even when boiled, since the water system continues to show higher-then-usual sodium levels.

High sodium intake isn’t a problem for everyone, Nunavut’s health department said, but it can have adverse effects on people with potentially weakened immune systems, like infants or elders, or people with high blood pressure.

The GN said its departments of Health and Community and Government Services, are investigating and testing the local water system for both sodium and E. coli.

Residents with questions about water use should direct them to Gary Nelson at 867-645-6660.

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