Iqaluit water emergency enters second month

Water still deemed unsafe to drink, mayor announces special council meeting Nov. 15

An Iqaluit resident fills a water jug at a filling station in October. The city’s water emergency has entered its second month. (File photo by Mélanie Ritchot)

By Nunatsiaq News

As Iqaluit’s water emergency enters its second month, Mayor Kenny Bell has called a special council meeting for Monday to “release a timeline of events and test results on the water situation to the public.”

The timeline will start with the first complaint the city received about the smell of fuel in the city’s tap water and explain the city’s plan moving forward, Bell told Nunatsiaq News.

Although city staff started hearing complaints about the smell on Oct. 2, it wasn’t until Oct. 12 that council declared a local state of emergency and Nunavut’s Health Department imposed a “do-not-consume” order on water from the municipal system.

Since then, Iqaluit’s 8,300 residents have been forced to buy bottled water, turn to city-run filling stations or draw their own water from the Sylvia Grinnell River.

Both the city and GN extended those state of emergency declarations on Tuesday.

At a Nov. 2 emergency council meeting, chief administrative officer Amy Elgersma said it had provided a report to Nunavut’s Health Department, certifying the city’s treated water meets Canadian guidelines for clean drinking water.

The Government of Nunavut has assigned a third party to review the city’s report. The third party will also do a site investigation of the water treatment plant, where it is now believed a historic diesel fuel leak infiltrated a water tank, as well as a risk assessment.

“Once complete, the [chief public health officer] will be able to determine if the do-not-consume order can be lifted or should remain in place until additional issues are addressed,” Elgersma told council.

Ultimately, it’s up to Nunavut’s Health Department to lift the do-not-consume order it imposed on Iqaluit’s municipal drinking water on Oct. 12.

The Canadian Armed Forces is scheduled to operate the water purification system it set up on the bank of the Sylvia Grinnell River until Nov. 17, but has a contingency plan to extend that operation for another two weeks.

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(19) Comments:

  1. Posted by Let’s Go Brandon on

    Lot’s of meetings and emergency meetings lately, Mayor Bell and the councilors must be enjoying the extra honorarium paid for by the residents of Iqaluit via taxes.
    Another meeting with Kenny is another useless meeting.

    LET’s GO KENNY!!
    just resign already.

    • Posted by Crystal Clarity on

      I’m sure the mayor and council want to see an end to this situation as much as all the other residents of Iqaluit. Give them a break.

      • Posted by Let’s Go Brandon on

        Kenny can have a nice break if he steps down.

        Let’s Go Kenny!

  2. Posted by Where’s our mayor? on

    It might just be me but I am getting frustrated with the lack of information coming from our city and more important our mayor.
    What is going on with our water, what are the finding from the samples? Was there any other contaminates besides fuel in our water?
    What is the work being done now and the time line to getting our water system fixed and usable?
    I have been trying to stay patient but as the days and weeks go on its really starting to wane and I am getting frustrated with the lack of leadership being shown.
    Am I missing something here? Is there more information that is getting out that I’m just missing?

  3. Posted by Paul on

    You wouldn’t think it would take this long to find what the problem is and figure out how to fix it, if you need a new holding tank or other larger items and need it shipped up by sea its getting too late for that now, the weather is getting colder so you better figure something out soon.
    A third party review says a lot about the lack of confidence the GN has with the city, I hope the third party review will show the true context of this situation and recommendations to make changes in response times to investigate complaints and how the city gives out information or lack there of.

  4. Posted by Mixed Messages on

    November 2 the water was reported to meet Canadian Standards which means safe to consume. So tell my why the city and GN are declaring the water is unsafe to consume? This is making no sense whatsoever and it’s about time to get rid of the mixed messages.

    • Posted by Too cynical, or nah? on

      Just a cynical guess, but as the military finally got its osmosis operation up and running we have to pretend to need that for at least a week or so.

    • Posted by Inukshuk on

      There was just an article on CBC about skin rash/hives, and GN blaming it on people still drinking, bathing and washing with the water. Kind of confusing cause City and Dr Patterson said the water is safe for washing.

      Let’s Go Kenny!!

    • Posted by Cleaning the spill should be prioritized on

      Whats to stop this historical spill or any other they have mentioned in the area not being remediated? How long until one of them deep in and contamination occurs again because they didn’t want to spend the money now? Another gamble worth 8000 lives?

  5. Posted by Confused on

    Several questions arise that the city hasnt really answered
    1- How large is this north well tank that was apparently contaminated. How many gallons does it hold?
    2- How large was this this fuel tank they found that supposedly contaminated the water?
    How many gallons of fuel leaked from this tank?
    3- Was the water tank cracked as
    the city is assuming it was?

    Im no rocket scientist but does it not make sense that assuming if it was cracked the if the pressure inside the water tank was greater than the pressure outside it would push the fuel away instead of allowing it to enter?
    Something is just not making any sense here and the mayor and cao are just doin their best to cover their assess as neither one of them has a clue what they are doing or talking about.

    • Posted by Uakallangaak on

      Haven’t you guys listened to the press conferences and the CBC lunch hour shows. Blaming the mayor is low. We including the city and the chief medical officer want to ensure everything is completed appropriately. Creating more drama is encouraging negativity which we don’t need right now. I’ve tasted my water and its fine but we have to wait for the order to be lifted. Send love not hate

  6. Posted by Something must be done on

    I don’t know about anyone else in town, but I really want to know what’s going to be done. Like if a historical spill caused all this, what is to stop it from contaminating our water again if the spill isn’t remediated? Is there a definitive answer to how it seeped into the north tank? Has anything been mentioned publically about remediating the historical spill?

  7. Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

    Anonymous Facebook keyboards are at their best in the above comments.
    Filled with misleading statements and misinformation.
    Did anyone read the article?
    To suggest Dr. Patterson is misleading anyone is ludicrous, He was clear in the interview that there have been no recorded reports of the skin rashes being a result of the water. If you or your kids have skin rashes, I would suggest you go to the clinic and have it checked before going on Facebook and trying to mislead people.
    Those of you wanting answers (if again you read the article) will find Council meeting Monday to release a timeline of events and test results on the water situation to the public.” I know it’s hard to retain info sometimes, isn’t it?

    Right now my faith has been and will continue to be in the direction of the Good Doctor and his experts, not anonymous Brandons.

  8. Posted by Unik on

    “Since then, Iqaluit’s 8,300 residents have been forced to buy bottled water, turn to city-run filling stations or draw their own water from the Sylvia Grinnell River.”

    Or receive the free bottled water the city has been providing.
    That’s a pretty big oversight.

  9. Posted by Joe B on

    The City Council, the Mayor and the CAO need to go…period!
    It’s just a masquerade after another… The people of Iqaluit are worried for just cause. No water, no long-term solution and a total lack of communication & transparency! This is the most incompetence and negligence case I have ever seen in a long time in Iqaluit.

    Please CGS put this City under administration as you did in the past and fix the problem. I’m fed up with the mayor and Councillor Sheppard admiring themself like peacocks when they can get the attention of CBC!

    • Posted by Amen on


      • Posted by what if !! on

        So what if they all resigned!!! what then!!!! who in their right mind would want to do these jobs!!!!!!!!!, just look at how they get treated.

        • Posted by No on

          Competent people would not be treated the same…BIG DIFFERENCE . The mayor has put his ego before the best interests of residents and doesn’t understand the gravity of his action and words. Take a look at his Twitter to get some insight.

  10. Posted by Curious on

    I am wondering since the weather is colder and bottled water are freezing any warm place to distribute besides outside or store them in warmer temperature just curious

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