Nunavut minister promises solutions to Sanikiluaq’s water woes
New treatment system on the way; possible new lake source for drinking water
Nunavut’s community and government services minister says after a year of analysis, his department still doesn’t know why Sanikiluaq’s water supply shows elevated sodium levels.
But while engineers try to solve the mystery, they are identifying solutions.
Joe Savikataaq, Nunavut’s CGS minister, was responding June 8 in Nunavut’s legislature to questions from Hudson Bay MLA Allan Rumbolt, who represents Sanikiluaq.
Sanikiluaq has been plagued by water problems for about a year since high levels of sodium were detected in the water last summer.
Shortly after that, officials found E. coli bacteria in several community locations and issued a boil water advisory for the entire community as a precaution while they dealt with the contamination.
But in terms of the sodium, boiling water actually worsens the problem because that causes evaporation which then elevates the concentrations of sodium left in the water.
Quoting Savikataaq from the fall 2016 sitting of the legislature, Rumbolt said the minister told members of the house then that his department was, “conducting an analysis of the situation.”
“Can the minister tell us what the results of that analysis were, and can he clarify what factors led to the high levels of sodium in Sanikiluaq’s drinking water last summer?”
Savikataaq said the results are in but they are inconclusive.
“Yes the sodium is high but we can’t figure out why the sodium is high. To date we have not figured that out, we just know that it is.”
Savikataaq then told Rumbolt that they are considering sourcing water from Windy Lake instead, a lake about 10 kilometres outside Sanikiluaq. But first they need to make sure the water is safe to drink and that the lake can sustain an outflow of water large enough to supply the town.
“It’s my understanding there may be issues with the water coming from that lake as well,” Rumbolt said.
“I’d like to know what options Sanikiluaq will have if the need for a new water source arises and there’s no water source close enough to the community?” He then pressed Savikataaq for a target date on when the people of Sanikiluaq can expect a long-term solution to their water problems.
“The water situation in Sanikiluaq is unique,” Savikataaq said.
“We are designing a water treatment system right now, to be designed this year, to go to Sanikiluaq. I can’t tell the member exactly what’s entailed, what the design will have, but people have to have safe drinking water so we are going to look at solutions for Sanikiluaq.”