Thomassie Mangiok found these dead fish in the water tank of his home in Ivujivik. (Photo courtesy of T. Mangiok)

Ivujivik family calls for filtration systems after finding dead fish in water tank

Community’s water treatment plant has been out of service since February

By Sarah Rogers

Thomassie Mangiok, his wife and two daughters recently made pasta in their kitchen at home in Ivujivik.

The Nunavik family was excited to tuck into the fresh meal, only to discover it tasted off.

“It tasted like fish,” Mangiok complained. “We couldn’t finish it.”

The flavour wasn’t surprising. A few days ago, he’d taken a flashlight and peered into his water tank, where he counted six dead fish.

“I’m afraid to get some type of infection,” Mangiok said, adding he worries most for his wife, who is now eight months pregnant.

“I’ve been putting some vinegar in our water tank, to reduce any chance of microbes.”

Ivujivik’s water treatment plant has been out of service since February, when its pipes and supply lines froze. Higher than usual amounts of snowfall this past winter prevented the community’s fuel truck from offloading at the facility, which left it without power.

Since then, the community government has used its two water trucks to collect freshwater from a lake outside the village. That water is then treated with chlorine and delivered directly to local homes.

The Kativik Regional Government has had a boil water alert in place since then, which means community members are advised to boil any water they plan to consume for at least one minute. But residents have also noticed the water in their tanks is yellow, flecked with particles, and in Mangiok’s case, polluted with dead fish.

Ivujivik residents are now asking the regional government for more reliable infrastructure to ensure clean drinking water for its residents.

The community has recently started circulating a petition on the website, endorsed by the local municipal council, calling for “clean water in the Arctic” and asking for support to add water filtration systems to local homes.

“We wanted to create a petition to create awareness, to get KRG and other organizations to pay attention to this,” Mangiok said.

“I want a system in place to make sure that the water we drink will be safe.”

The KRG’s Municipal Public Works department has yet to receive the petition, but its director, Paul Parsons, said the department is working to get Ivujivik’s water treatment plant back up and running as soon as possible.

“It’s been a difficult winter there,” Parsons said.

“We add chlorine to the tank, and that’s been recognized as acceptable practice in these emergency kinds of situations. That’s the only treatment process until the supply line issue is solved.”

The Kativik Regional Government has sent technicians to work on the local plant, but Parsons said the solution may require waiting for the snow to melt, which in Nunavik’s northernmost community could take until mid-June.

When asked about the option of installing filtration systems in local homes, Parsons said the regional government has not considered that as a viable long-term fix.

“It is safe drinking water, once it goes through the plant,” he said. “So there’s no need to do any further filtrating at the house point.”

In the meantime, many community members, including Mangiok, have resorted to collecting fresh drinking water themselves from a nearby stream.

The Kativik Regional Government’s most recent water testing results, posted on April 7, show that Ivujivik isn’t the only Nunavik community facing challenges.

It has issued boil water alerts in Salluit and Aupaluk, where neither community currently has a functioning water treatment plant. Salluit’s plant has faced a similar freeze-up, while Aupaluk’s local freshwater supply recently depleted.

Other Nunavik communities, like Akulivik and Inukjuak, have seen water delivery issues over the winter related to the maintenance of their fleets of water trucks.

Keeping a flow of safe drinking water in all 14 communities is a perpetual challenge, Parsons said.

“The valuable of having potable water is huge,” he said.

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(18) Comments:

  1. Posted by Plow on

    I’ve seen roads cleared to cabins not far from town by loader, have the communities access road even if it takes a couple days, better than waiting for it to melt, how is that even a mentioned option?

  2. Posted by Thomassie Mangiok on

    Considering we face these issues:
    – Limited access to professional plumbers.
    – Expensive shipping of material.
    – High cost of purchase and installation.
    – Regular and long lasting water issues.

    It makes sense that our organizations first install the equipment, and then we paid for and install filters.

    Or at least provide an emergency measure to address such issues.
    Maybe our communities can be equipped with AquaResponse Systems.

  3. Posted by pissed off on

    How many excuses will they come up with before someone admits that there was no fuel delivered to the plant.

    Manpower mistake plain and simple and negligence from those operating the plant.

    You can design the best plant in the world but it cannot be made not idiot proof.

    How much grief , time, efforts and money will be spent for a simple lack of oversight!!!

    Good job guys.

  4. Posted by Northern Guy on

    It has always astonished me that the vast majority of Northern homeowners do not have sediment filtration and UV treatment systems installed in houses that rely on trucked services. The units are very reliable, easy to maintain and inexpensive to purchase and install. One need only look at the many different ways that trucked water can become contaminated (the source from which the water is extracted, the tank on the water truck, the hose delivering the water to the home and finally the residential tank) to now that the likelihood of obtaining pristine water is almost negligible.

  5. Posted by Large city not on

    Funny video, if one was made. Give cearsar his dues and like wise Jesus. Man, old man, need I say. What going on, I went to there, and caught no fish, where were the fish? Someone said go to that house and this house. I never got any. But invited for supper.

  6. Posted by Even if you have long way to go on

    If only more locals would be willing to do something to better their community.
    That would make a big difference!
    Stop complaining about outsiders having to fix your problems all the time.
    In many organizations, you will find no staff; normalized in the old life town.

    Empower your beautiful village and abled people!

    • Posted by Oh yes on

      Oh yes, the southerners will fix it for you, even take the fish out, and show you how to not get fish in there again, makes me sick. I mean what water in that community waiting for mr from the south to access it. I was thirsty when I was there, you know that creek, some good water. Nunavik is gone.

    • Posted by Why don’t you help out and support the beautiful community! on

      It is so easy for you to make a comment, and yet, think of living in high cost Northern communities, the Northern equipment are not built like southern made.

      Yet there are children to consider and elders to reconsider water access needs.

      even their Nursing facility.

      Water is not going to run like southern water(s) running water as full time!

      • Posted by Essentially is water on

        Water is the source of life. Of all the pollution on this earth, a Nunavik community is dealing with fresh drinking water issues. Compared to the south, Nunavik has less pollution, or so we think. How ridiculously dependent that fresh drinking water is all about what’s very expensive and has to be shipped from the more polluted areas of technology. Ask not what the government can do for you. Yes we all pay taxes and deserve vital services. But ask yourself, if you live in Nunavik: what can I do, and what am I doing to make my life better. It’s very expensive for tax money to keep me alive here, so what’s my contribution. A few years back , can remember the vandalism done to a water truck or 2, along a Hudson Bay community. Yes it was a new truck, just arrived and was damaged by someone. No respect. Nunavik needs to address its contribution to wellness. Stop the total dependence on south. Look after your service. Go to work each day, stop this no show. This is Nunavik issue. Helping those to don’t help themselves is useless.

    • Posted by Thomassie Mangiok on

      I agree with empowerment, but I don’t agree how you are calling this a complaint to have outsiders fix it.

      As a paying tenant, I’d like to be able to ensure that we have access to safe water for me, my children, and other paying tenants such as my elderly relatives.

      I checked to see how much it’d cost to buy a $300 filter, the shipping was $1200, and then there are service costs. We’re lucky we can hire a local person who’s good at plumbing.

      How it’s the regional organizations turn to make a move, make house filters available for purchase if that’s all they can do. Or make sure our mechanical rooms have a space for filtration systems. Or ensure that there’s supervision and followup on the management level. But I’d be happy to have a system installed, same systems in all houses and we pay for filter replacements.

  7. Posted by Give them beer on

    I bit if it was beer or wine or other spirits, we wouldn’t hear about it on the news page. They wouldn’t complain about theses fluids. I really feel bad for the good people, but those complaining, I’m not concerned.

    • Posted by UNGAVA on

      Bet you , things are going to get worse , SPRING IS HERE, everybody is more likly to goof off hunting then go to work

    • Posted by Thomassie Mangiok on

      Everyone is tired of our situation regardless who’s to blame, that’s for our local government to deal with. We as community members are all in the same boat.

      The point is that we don’t have access to anyway to clean out water, we just need to be able to be safe at home.

  8. Posted by Squirt on

    My guess is that KRG’s last Qc instalment on major infrastructure for these plants is running low and they will ask for a renewed instalment. I can see them blaming the issues on depleted funds rather than admitting their staff retention (outside of Kuujjuaq) sucks. Same for airport Janitors. Oh, their training methods for these technical positions are not the greatest either. Bring up the pay for better retention lowering the turnover rate and intern better upkeep for the facilities.

    • Posted by JANI on

      The only people with good pay are all the one sittting pretty in the sky scraper in kuujjuaq.

  9. Posted by Ben on

    We should get pipe lines for unlimited water supply
    here in nunavik. I think KRG & Raglan mine could help
    us with the money.

    • Posted by Thomassie Mangiok on

      Yes we can, as long as delivery workers are given new tasks such as regularly maintaining pipes and water quality, and making sure the water plant is clean and able to receive fuel.

      Same for sewage related tasks.

      The initial cost would just be very high, but we can now at least look into how it could work well and how much it would cost.

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