Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut February 23, 2017 - 2:30 pm

Nunavut government investigates Cambridge Bay’s yellow drinking water

New filtration plant now off-line as construction company, consultants, GN look at system

Something's not right with the water filtration system in Cambridge Bay, seen here. (FILE PHOTO)
Something's not right with the water filtration system in Cambridge Bay, seen here. (FILE PHOTO)

Nunavut’s Department of Community and Government Services wants to find out what’s turning the water yellow in the western Nunavut community of Cambridge Bay.

The water is safe to drink, tests say, but now consultants and the contractor who built the system have been called in to evaluate the system which supplies water to about 1,700 local residents as well as to the Canadian High Arctic Research Station, set to open July 1.

Since last November, Cambridge Bay’s new water treatment plant has been in operation, as part of the community’s new $12-million water system that includes a water treatment plant, a new intake pump house, and upgrades and extensions to the waterline which, among other things, feeds into the CHARS complex and new fire hydrants around town.

However, after the start-up of the plant’s new filtration system, people have noticed that the filtered water was taking on a yellowish colour, a Feb. 22 announcement from the CGS said.

Yellow water can, in some instances, be caused by bacteria or iron deposits dissolving and entering the system from rain or melting snow, some online websites suggest.

Water samples were taken by the GN’s environmental health officer and the Department of Health and their test results confirm that the water is safe to drink.

But the new filtration system has now been taken off-line to figure out what is causing the discolouration the CGS said.

That filtration system was designed to reduce bacteria, protozoa and viruses using a variety of measures including filtration, chlorine disinfection and ultraviolet light disinfection.

Water continues to be chlorinated and ultraviolet-treated, the CGS said.

Meanwhile, the CGS said it is working with the system’s design consultants and contractor to “resolve the issue.”

Representatives from the general contractor, NDL Construction Ltd., which also worked on the Rankin Inlet healing facility and Kugluktuk’s new sewage lagoon, is in Cambridge Bay for a full commissioning, the CGS said, and the engineering consultant company, Stantec, will be on-site on Feb. 24 to check and confirm the commissioning process, the CGS said.

New water samples are already on their way to Nunavut’s environmental health officer and the Yellowknife-based Taiga Laboratory for bacterial tests.

The results will be shared with all stakeholders, the CGS said, adding that “safe drinking water continues to be provided to residents of Cambridge Bay.”

But some in Cambridge Bay say they’re not happy with the water’s look and taste, despite being told it’s safe to drink. Those who can afford to are buying bottled water while others are heading to the river to get ice to melt.

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