Iqaluit awaits chief public health officer’s confirmation that water is safe to drink
Decision to lift ‘do not drink’ order is up to Dr. Patterson, says CAO Amy Elgersma
Test results show Iqaluit’s water supply meets Canadian drinking water guidelines, but the do-not-drink order remains in effect, chief administrative officer Amy Elgersma said at an emergency city council meeting on Tuesday.
“The water treatment plant is working well,” said Elgersma.
It will be up to Nunavut’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, to lift the do-not-drink order, she said.
Three weeks ago the city and the Government of Nunavut Health Department told residents not to drink the tap water from the municipal water supply because it was suspected it had been contaminated with fuel. City officials, along with Patterson, confirmed that contamination in a news conference Oct. 15.
Since then, officials have released some data about hydrocarbon levels found in different parts of Iqaluit’s water treatment system, and announced workers found the suspected source of the contamination: a historic, underground fuel spill beside the treatment plant.
Last week, the city announced the installation of a monitoring system to detect hydrocarbons in the water supply.
Elgersma said the plan is to publish results from the monitoring system and other water testing on the city’s website weekly.
A group working on behalf of the city – including water experts, technicians and engineers – are working on a letter of certification to give to Patterson’s office indicating the water meets health guidelines.
Chris Puglia, a spokesperson for Nunavut’s Department of Health, said the government would then have an independent contractor review the city’s report and give feedback. Puglia said he does not know how long this process will take.
Elgersma said she hopes to have the letter ready this week, potentially tomorrow.