Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut May 29, 2018 - 3:30 pm

No safety issue with brown drinking water in Nunavut community: Kusugak

Minister pressed on plans to upgrade Rankin Inlet's aging infrastructure

SARAH ROGERS
Former Rankin Inlet MLA Tom Sammurtok tabled this photo in 2016 of Rankin Inlet's fresh water source, Lake Nipissar, to show the lake's alarmingly low water levels. Residents of the Kivalliq community are dealing with discoloured tap water, which officials say could be mixed with mud or sand.
Former Rankin Inlet MLA Tom Sammurtok tabled this photo in 2016 of Rankin Inlet's fresh water source, Lake Nipissar, to show the lake's alarmingly low water levels. Residents of the Kivalliq community are dealing with discoloured tap water, which officials say could be mixed with mud or sand.
A resident of Rankin Inlet posted this image to social media last week of their bathtub filled with brown tap water.
A resident of Rankin Inlet posted this image to social media last week of their bathtub filled with brown tap water.

Residents of Nunavut’s second-largest community have been dealing with discoloured tap water in recent weeks, and while the territorial government isn’t quite sure what’s causing it, the Government of Nunavut says it’s safe to drink.

Some residents of Rankin Inlet have posted photos to social media of brown and yellow water in their kitchen sinks and bathtubs.

But when the issue was raised last week in the legislative assembly, Community and Government Services Minister Lorne Kusugak said the water might look bad, but it’s fine to consume.

“To date I have heard that there is no safety issue with the water quality,” Kusugak told the legislature May 25, responding to a question from Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet MLA Cathy Towtongie.

“It looks bad when you are drinking it, but that’s how it is right now,” he said. “We’re asking the residents of Rankin Inlet who notice brownish water to let the water run for a while to get the brownish water out.”

Kusugak, himself a resident of Rankin Inlet, said his department and health officials are working on finding the source of the discolouration.

A May 25 release from Community and Government Services said that “discoloured water is often the result of a change in the system’s water flow.”

For his part, Kusugak suggested the brownish colour could come from mud or sand mixing into the water source, which is then distributed to the community via a utilidor system.

That system has raised more pressing questions about the quality and availability of fresh drinking water in the Kivalliq community of 2,800.

This past November, the GN put out a request for proposals for a feasibility study to look at the best options for replacing the community’s aging water infrastructure.

The piped system draws water from Lake Nipissar to a treatment centre on Williamson Lake before it’s distributed throughout the community.

But the system was first installed in the 1970s and now poses “many health and safety risks,” according to the GN.

“The system is over 40 years old and is showing its age,” a GN report found.

“The design of the system does not meet current codes and standards … the condition of most system components are past their service life and are at risk of critical failure.”

The issues include corrosion along parts of the pipeline, leaks, broken valves, low water pressure and integrity issues in the pump houses.

That’s not to mention a 2016 study by York University researchers that predicts the community could see water shortages by later tihs year, as Lake Nipissar continues to deplete.

The contract to lead that study was awarded in December 2017 to EXP Services Inc. and four other supporting firms.

But Towtongie wanted to know what has come of the final report, which was expected to be complete in March 2018.

“Can the minister describe the key recommendations that were contained in the feasibility study?” Towtongie asked Kusugak in the legislature May 25.

Kusugak suggested there should be some news “within this month” and committed to sharing the results with Towtongie and hamlet officials.

Email this story to a friend... Print this page... Bookmark and Share Comment on this story...

(17) Comments:

#1. Posted by iRoll on May 29, 2018

“and while the territorial government isn’t quite sure what’s causing it [discoloured water], the Government of Nunavut says it’s safe to drink.”

Premise 1. We don’t know what it is.

Premise 2. It’s safe

Invalid argument

#2. Posted by Andrew Medeiros on May 29, 2018

Actually, our study said that Rankin Inlet could completely run out of water in any year from 2018-2020. Sediment being pulled into the water intake in Rankin has become worse every year, the residence have long known this… Sediment in the system is a serious issue, which can cause damage to pipes and infrastructure. Running your taps to clear the problem will only make it worse as Lake Nipissar continues to deplete without any recharge (its ice covered).. We warned the GN that Rankin Inlet was quickly approaching a water emergency in 2016, which was peer-reviewed, published, and made public..

#3. Posted by Eye roller on May 29, 2018

Safe to drink??? How dumb do “they” think people are? Water is not suppose to have colour or taste. This world is going to hell in a hand basket!!!

#4. Posted by Bread & Circus on May 29, 2018

#2 Yes but don’t forget, Rankin is spending huge money on a new arena.

Things are fine!

#5. Posted by Northern Inuit on May 29, 2018

remember when bloodworms were a huge problem in Gjoa Haven?

The Minister of CG&S told Residents of Gjoa Haven that the water was fine to drink and safe.  so the MLA of Gjoa Haven at the time brought a bottle of tap water from his home Community and asked the Minster of CG&S to drink the water, he politely refused.

I wonder of they would do the same today?

#6. Posted by Rankin Resident on May 29, 2018

#4 the new arena was fundraised and had minimal support from our government/hamlet

#7. Posted by Yumm on May 29, 2018

It could be tannic acid from decaying plant matter.  That would be weak tea.  Or it could be something else…

#8. Posted by Nothing wrong here on May 30, 2018

Maybe the pages in the Legislative Assembly should fill members drinking water with Rankin water?

#9. Posted by rankin resident on May 30, 2018

Kusugak saying its safe to drink? come on and show everyone lets see you drink it

#10. Posted by boris pasternak on May 30, 2018

third world conditions for sure. tom s. sent s bottle to lorne , if he drinks it, i don’t see why rankiniut should not drink the stuff. i have a better solution; spent all the capital budget $$$ on rankin this fiscal year. besides iqaluit, this will be the only community with two arenas, speaking of gullible and fleecing gn, this community takes the cake. i supposed next item for ri is olympic size swimming pool. pride and prejudice.

#11. Posted by Iqaluit gets things from different sources on May 30, 2018

@ #10

You and many other people like you need to quit all this “its all spent in iqaluit” crap. Just because Iqaluit does get new facilities and such doesnt mean that the GN isnt paying for other communities. First of all,Iqaluit’s AWG arena was constructed/mostly paid for by the Arctic Winter Games when they were held in Iqaluit in 2002, secondly, our pool was paid for mainly by federal grants, the city itself and fund raising. And our other arena is just as shitty as rankin’s because that one wasnt paid for by other agencies. You need to actually think of where money comes from for different things before trying to talk smack about it

#12. Posted by boris pasternak on May 30, 2018

hey dodo #11, it’s ri i am criticizing for change. i was being nice to your city this time round.

#13. Posted by you can have it on May 30, 2018

i should send a water jug of the brown water from Rankin Inlet, to the Nunavut Legislature and have it served to the members and say “I think it is safe to drink”

#14. Posted by Ms.Tupak on May 30, 2018

“To date I have heard that there is NO SAFETY ISSUE with the water quality,” Kusugak told the legislature May 25, responding to a question from Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet MLA Cathy Towtongie.

“It looks bad when you are drinking it, but that’s how it is right now,” he said. “We’re asking the residents of Rankin Inlet who notice brownish water to let the water run for a while to get the brownish water out.”
SO SAD TO HAVE MINISTER LIKE THIS that don’t seem to care. NO GUTS to make a change or to move an issue when he is given power as a minister. Meet with the federal minister for new money and fix the problem as it’s an issue the Federal government knows very well - bad water on reserves and with aboriginal communities.
Good questions from Cathy.

#15. Posted by outside looking in on May 30, 2018

Hey #11 hows that muilti million dollar airport while other communities in Nunavut are in need of water facilities and health centers? Iqaluit gets 1st priority and the other communities need to fundraise or wait until the problem becomes a crisis just to get heard. Just look at what is happening in Pangnirtung or Gjoa getting no support even though they have asked for support years ago. It would be nice to see some of this 15million in Carbon tax to be spread around the territory addressing these issues or maybe housing???

#16. Posted by andrew medeiros on May 30, 2018

Iqaluit is not immune to water woes, we projected that iqaluit itself may run out of water in the next 5-10 years, perhaps sooner if any extreme weather event would occur such as lower than average snowfall.

#17. Posted by mary christmas on May 31, 2018

#15; sorry, this 15 mil you’re speaking of; its ear-marked for rankin inlet and Iqaluit only. nunavut will just have to wait until all infrastructure needs for these two communities are met. sorry. “outside looking in”; i think your community is 20th in the nunavut lineup.

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?