Nunavut health department lifts Inuksugait Plaza boil water advisory
Advisory “a precautionary measure,” says Government of Nunavut
(Updated at 12:10 p.m.)
Nunavut’s health department withdrew a boil water advisory for several buildings around Inuksugait Plaza in Iqaluit, April 28, after tests confirmed water is safe to drink straight from the tap.
The department lifted the advisory at 11:00 a.m., after tests showed the water was free from harmful bacteria.
The boil-water warning was “a precautionary measure,” Michele LeBlanc-Havard, environmental health specialist with the department of Health, told Nunatsiaq News April 27.
One of the buildings affected by the advisory, Building 1104 C, houses the Inuksugait Quickstop convenience store on the ground floor — and a Tim Hortons coffee and doughnut stand.
Although the store would not serve tea or machine-made hot drinks such as hot chocolate and cappuccinos, due to the advisory, managers kept the store well-stocked with coffee April 27.
A large grey 10-gallon coffee dispenser, supplied by the Quickstop’s parent NorthMart store on the other side of the city, replaced the usual standard two or three Tim Hortons dispensers.
“We can’t make any coffee here,” said sales clerk Effie Cox.
The boil water advisory led managers to decide against using any of the water at all, she said.
Nunavut’s health department first announced the advisory late in the day, April 23, after health officials assessed a risk of contamination to piped water through a large break in a water main next to Inuksugait Plaza building 1106.
The City of Iqaluit started repairing the water line earlier in the week. Workers dug up a section of Ikaluktuutiak Drive, the main access road to the Inuksugait buildings, on April 22 to effect repairs. No fewer than 10 buildings in the area went without water for most of the day, April 23, as city workers repaired the line.
The Department of Health examined the break with the City of Iqaluit.
“We had a discussion with the Chief Medical Officer of Health [Maureen Baikie] and the town, and we felt it was in the best interest of the consumer to ensure they have safe drinking water while the repairs were taking place, and then confirm that with water samples,” LeBlanc-Havard said.
“Whenever you disturb a water main, or whenever there’s a break, you need to do a risk assessment, and make decisions that will protect the consumer,” she said.
The break by the Inuksugait buildings “was significant enough that they couldn’t keep the external environment from entering into the pipes, so it was thought between the city and the Department of Health that it would be best to put a precautionary boil-water advisory in place.”
LeBlanc-Havard said the advisory was part of updated procedures and policies the department is working on with the City of Iqaluit, based on “risk assessments.”
Part of that procedure calls for the department and the city to take water samples and conduct tests to show the water is free of bacteria and other contaminants that could be harmful to human health, she said.
“Best practice is to ensure that there is 24 hours between two water samples,” the health specialist said.
The department was set to take a second water sample for examination of bacteria on April 27, and read final results April 28, she said.
Those results allowed the boil water advisory to be lifted.