Nunavut government to fund new pump house for Kugaaruk by summer 2013

Automatic saltwater system will warn of bad water


Kugaaruk residents are no strangers to dubious water quality in their community of just under 800 people.

Late last year, a tidal surge pushed salt water from the ocean into the hamlet’s freshwater lagoon — leaving many people using water from a murky nearby lake, or being forced to travel 11 kilometres to another freshwater source.

More than six months went by before the lagoon naturally flushed itself out, but a new pump house coming to the hamlet in the summer of 2013 will allay fears of drinking bad water if another surge ever happens.

“Our new system will monitor salt [automatically], which is not normal for most systems,” Kugaaruk’s senior administrative officer Greg Holitzki, told Nunatsiaq News.

Right now, the existing pump house is run on a generator, but the new pump house will be connected to the local power grid.

“We’re very excited to have the ability to have power go out to our new system. We’ll be monitoring it a lot closer,” Holitzki said.

The old generator will also provide backup if there is a power outage in the community.

That saltwater surge, however, has been described as a once-every-50-year event.

But if a similar surge were to happen, the hamlet may now react “a lot faster” because of the automated saltwater monitoring system.

“If we can see that the salt water is coming, maybe we can stop pumping and not put so much water in peoples houses,” Holitzki said. “If we had to react, we’re ready to react. Instead of panicking and not being able to do it.”

The new pump house will be funded by the Government of Nunavut, although Holitzki and Lorne Kusugak, the minister of Community and Government Services, did not know the exact cost.

Kusugak fielded questions from Akulliq MLA John Ningark at the Nunavut Legislative Assembly Oct. 26 about water quality in Kugaaruk.

Although Holitzki said tests confirmed that no salt water is currently in the Kugaaruk water system current, Ningark said some people still see salt water coming out of their pipes.

People are doing laundry with salt water, Ningark said.

Kusugak said he doesn’t know if the pump house will alleviate all problems in the future, but he said a water reservoir would be a good option in a few years time.

“The ideal thing for places like Kugaaruk is to build a water reservoir for the municipality. But money is a very big factor in everything we do,” Kusugak said.

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