Flushing Iqaluit’s water pipes will take longer than expected, city says

City will provide next update on Monday, Oct. 25

A day after the city issued a do not drink water notice, Iqaluit residents lined up to fill jugs of water at a fill station near the library. Iqalummiut will have to continue collecting water from filling stations as the city has pushed back its timeline for when the contaminated water will be flushed from the system. (File photo by Mélanie Ritchot)

By Nunatsiaq News

The City of Iqaluit has extended its previous estimate of when its pipes will be flushed of contaminated water, and says residents may experience a harsher smell of petroleum through their taps than before.

“This is expected during the flushing process,” said a city press release issued by spokesperson Geoff Byrne Wednesday.

Iqalummiut have been under a do not drink water advisory since Oct. 12, when government officials located an underground tank with a strong smell of petroleum.

On Oct. 15, Nunavut’s chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson confirmed that there are petroleum hydrocarbons in the city’s water supply, likely kerosene or diesel fuel.

City officials said then that the flushing process was expected to take place over the weekend, and residents would begin running their taps to flush home pipes by mid-week this week.

That is not the case anymore, as the city now says it will provide its next update on Monday, Oct. 25.

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(18) Comments:

  1. Posted by Nunavut on

    ‘Run the water for 30 secs, it’ll be good to go’, ‘It’s just more chlorine in the system that you smell’, ‘there is a crack in the under water tank’, ‘We going to send in more engineers to see if there is really a crack, we can’t see it’, ‘the media is really harsh on me’! resign, all of you! What a joke, infants and pregnant moms got tainted by your very slow response.

  2. Posted by Water guy on

    Not to burst anyones bubble, with the size of the Utilidor realistically you are probably looking at first week of December before you get rid of the odour.

    Not sure why they are considering using dawn soap to speed up the process, this is not a joke.

    Also, shouldn’t they be worrying about what this is going to do to the reservoir…

    • Posted by Observer on

      The problem is downstream of the reservoir, at the water plant itself. The contaminated water won’t flow uphill.

      • Posted by Water guy on

        My concern with all the flushing the volume of the reservoir is going to be depleted

  3. Posted by Step up on

    Media needs to ask the mayor and CAO some hard questions at the next press conference. We need some transparency.. something the current mayor promised in his platform!

  4. Posted by Long weekend on

    What is everyone taking a long weekend?

  5. Posted by Natural flushing? on

    If the bypass is in place since their last press conference wouldn’t the system be flushed by now with everyone using water?

  6. Posted by qikiqtaalummiu on

    Voters had a say not time for another municipality election time, the council and both mayor and cao has some serious talking to do, transparency not happening plus ignoring the safety protocols calls for better action.there is something more underneath the mess and we need proper guidance at the moment taking care of the mess they created. No more waisting time let us go to the polls and elect new council and mayor.Person whom ran against him might be a great choice.?

  7. Posted by Who? What? When? on

    Sounds to me that they just don’t know what they’re doing.
    Bell is too busy to worry about is social media status. All the other “City Officials” just sitting around the table scratching their heads and wishing they had someone hired into Director of Public Works position.

    in the meantime, here is some useful info:



  8. Posted by Council please stand up on

    Where is the rest of council? Time to show some leadership and speak up? Is there no one else on council that can speak to this mess? You were elected by the people for the people now do what you were elected to do. All I see is a bunch of sheep hiding behind a loud, incompetent mayor.

  9. Posted by Out of our control on

    What happened is really not the mayor or the city council’s fault. We love putting blame on something that is out of our control. Did the city work fast in shipping up water for us and passing them out to our community? YES!
    Our situation sucks! but why put blame on the city for it?

    Here’s something we can complain about….North MART! HIRE MORE STAFF! Get rid of the people hanging in the porch!! causing a scene and shouting matches! who wants to shop around that crap!

    • Posted by report on

      What you, the Mayor and CAO/Acting Director of Public Works don’t seem to understand is, the most concerning thing about this is not that a leak happened (though it is of concern), it’s that they told us over and over and over again that they understood the water smelled like fuel, but all tests were satisfactory, the water was safe to drink, there was no fuel in the water. They led us to believe that the “satifactory” test results that met national standards included tests that would detect the presence or absence of hydrocarbons. The only test for hydrocarbons was the one that wasn’t collected properly because no one knew how to collect the sample properly. And now they won’t acknowledge that it was wrong for them to advise us to drink the water even though there was a smell. It’s the fact that they won’t acknowledge this and show some humility that is ticking people off. It’s the fact that they are taking the concerns personally. It’s the fact that they are now saying ridiculous things like “there were lots of different odors being reported”, as if they had no idea about the specific fuel smell. Mistakes were made. Man up, admit them, fix them as best you can, and you will see peoples support. It’s part of the responsibility you take on when you are in charge. Admitting error doesn’t mean you are saying you did it on purpose.

      • Posted by report on

        And if they are transparent and open about errors and test results and things of that nature, they’ll find that the general public will quit harping on it and focus on the hard work they’re doing for the residents of Iqaluit. But if they don’t acknowledge it, people will hang on.

      • Posted by Water guy on

        Not only that, but why has senior management and council not done anything in 15 months to hire a director for public works.

        The people taking care of the plant most likely have 2nd rate training as operators, while in the south, it’s the LAW for operators to have ongoing yearly approved training by the provinces to maintain their certification after they pass standardized testing to become a water operator. If they don’t pass they don’t take care of water plants, end of story.

        CAO and heads of departments creates budgets and council approves them which includes training. To say their is no culpability by those parties would not stand up in court.

        Oh yeah you gotta love the climate argument, Utilities fix broken pipes and infrastructure everyday, is the Mayor saying Iqaluit can’t find or fix broken infrastructure?

        Does Walkerton have any meaning in the north, as far as I know not even close.

        Lots of blame to go around, the key is to fix what is clearly a broken system and learn from it.

    • Posted by Big deal on

      Do you understand the gravity of this situation at all? The mayor and CAO gambled with the health of residents. They told people the water was safe when they weren’t even running the proper tests to inform their statements. This is grossly negligent and no amount of ‘photo ops’ , tv interviews or water distribution can make up for the fact that they put residents are great risk for weeks. Instead of owning up to their mistakes, the mayor is being combative and not being transparent. At the end of the day, if they can’t be trusted they should not be running municipal affairs. I don’t care if your friends still think you’re cool, and you are getting likes on your attention seeking sympathy posts, you messed up and you need to be accountable. No one knows yet the impacts of your egotistic actions which could potentially impact the health of a lot of people in the long term and could have possibly been a lot worse. The fat that the mayor is so angry with these articles and the truth, speaks volumes.

    • Posted by Frodo’s parka on

      I agree that at least initially, this was not the mayor’s fault, but how it was handled once his office became aware is absolutely the city’s fault. You don’t mess with people’s health, and I feel that this was not taken seriously enough.

      As for North Mart, what are they supposed to do, exactly? They have no loitering signs, which are ignored. They also have no smoking signs which are also ignored. It’s the smoke I hate the most! Why do I have to breathe in cigarette smoke to go shopping? Perhaps by-law could take a break from pulling over cars and start enforcing the no smoking by law. I dont think there is a loitering by law, but I could be wrong.

  10. Posted by Step down on

    Hands down, worst mayor we have ever had. Funny that he criticized the previous mayors so much. They didn’t even come close to a mess like this.

  11. Posted by Media monitor on

    It’s great media is doing all these Iqaluit contaminated water stories but why did media not do stories before October 10th? Dozens of residents were complaining about fuel smelling or tasting water since early October. Media has an important role to play in holding government and elected leaders accountable. Maybe media stories would have made the city act more quickly with residents concerns and complaints.

    The first CBC news story on October 10th didn’t even mention residents complaints for almost 2 weeks. At least Nunatsiaq News did, even if they sat on this initial story.

    Who holds the media accountable?

    If there’s an investigation and inquiry in to this contaminated water which there should be, maybe the role of media should also be examined. Media also failed residents for at least 10 days.


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