Military setting up water purification units at Sylvia Grinnell River

City and military agreed on location Sunday night

Iqaluit’s chief administrative officer Amy Elgersma, seen centre, joins members of the military at Sylvia Grinnell River over the weekend. The set up of water purification units at the river has begun. (Photo courtesy of Joint Task Force North)

By David Lochead

The Canadian Armed Forces has begun setting up two water purification units at the Sylvia Grinnell River on Monday morning to help Nunavut’s capital with its ongoing water emergency.

The military had been waiting for the City of Iqaluit’s approval before setting up the units. The two parties agreed on the location Sunday night, said Maj. Susan Magill.

“They’re eager,” Magill said, referring to the military personnel setting up the water purification units.

Among the considerations weighed for the site location was whether the slope of the roads was manageable for trucks filled with water and driving in icy conditions, Magill said.

Over the weekend, both Mayor Kenny Bell and chief administrative officer Amy Elgersma visited the site at Sylvia Grinnell River, Magill said.

The water taken from the purification units will be distributed at the city’s fill stations and won’t have to be boiled, Magill said.

On Oct. 12, 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. That was confirmed on Oct. 15.

It will take about three days to set up the reverse osmosis water purification units, Magill said. The military needs to move and organize a large amount of equipment along with the units, including tents and heaters to help keep the machines warm, along with hoses and bladders hold the purified water.

The military has never operated the water purification units in cold temperatures, so the set up may take longer than it would in a warmer climate, Magill said.

“We’re always in a nice tropical place to set up [the water purification unit] where you’re wearing T-shirts and you don’t need gloves or bulky coats,” Magill said, adding the new conditions have not deterred the soldiers.

“It’s a learning curve for everybody.”

Water purification units are typically sent to other countries as part of the military’s disaster assistance response team.

The military arrived with the water purification units on Oct. 23 and Oct. 24 as part of Operation Lentus, which addresses national disasters and emergencies.

On Oct. 22, Bill Blair, who was then minister of emergency preparedness, approved a request from the Government of Nunavut for the military to provide assistance in Iqaluit’s water crisis.

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(18) Comments:

  1. Posted by chin on

    Hopefully they still allow the public to access the river. It will be frozen soon, but I would like to water that has minerals in it for as long as I can. This water will have no minerals.

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    • Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

      Stay away from their area and let them do their job.
      You can get YOUR water preference after the majority gets theirs.

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      • Posted by Sips on

        The river is for everyone, and forgive me if not everyone cares to go along with the city. I pay my taxes, I obey the law, I don’t make trouble. I want to quietly fill a jug at the river every few days so I can enjoy the benefits of that water. Reverse osmosis is fine when there is no other choice, but there is plenty of mineral- rich river water for anyone who wants to fill a container. You sir, are not in the thick of this situation, so please do not lecture concerned citizens or attempt to mansplain the reality of this emergency to others.

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        • Posted by Seeing Through the Screen? on

          How do you have any idea that the poster is a man?

          Letting your preconceived ideas of communication styles show.

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          • Posted by Sips on

            Uh, he lectures people on social media, in person, and in comments sections everywhere he goes.

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        • Posted by State of Emergency on

          We are currently under a state of emergency. Let the military do what they need to do and stay away from the area. The simple act of driving back and forth that narrow road can potentially interfere with their operation. Once they are done setting up you can get your water from the river all you like.

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          • Posted by Sips on

            Not sure who made you and Paul Murphy the presidents of this situation. The road isn’t blocked, nor is there any need to block it. I will continue to respect the authorities and their direction. That does not include you or Murphy.

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            • Posted by State of Emergency on

              The City and the GN have asked residents to stay away from the area while work is going on there. By ignoring that request you are disrespecting the efforts of the workers and soldiers trying to provide us with water.

              Maybe you should ask yourself who made YOU president of this situation?

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              • Posted by Misinformed on

                False. At the meeting today, they said to please be mindful of the trucks and the work going on there and said very clearly that they understand people prefer to collect their own water at the river and said we are still welcome to do so.

  2. Posted by Blitzkrieg it ain’t on

    Is it me, or is this taking surprisingly long time to get going?

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    • Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

      You want to point fingers read the article again. The military has been WAITING for council approval.
      Major Magill is clear about how long it will take due to the cold and the extra precautions needed.

      I hope this turns out to be a learning lesson for the council, administrators, . Maybe, next time, they might have a qualified EMO available to make decisions.

      A thorough investigation needs to be conducted by outside consultants not selected and nor hired by the hamlet or GN to follow the process from the getgo.

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  3. Posted by Andy on

    ““We’re always in a nice tropical place to set up [the water purification unit] where you’re wearing T-shirts and you don’t need gloves or bulky coats,” Magill said, adding the new conditions have not deterred the soldiers.”
    Really? You actually call this cold conditions?

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    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      They’ll likely be on the ground operating until at least the early spring, so YES they will be operating in cold conditions and should prepare accordingly.

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    • Posted by No One Said That on

      At not point was Magill quoted as calling conditions cold.

  4. Posted by articrick on

    John W Paul Murphy is what is wrong with this world, too many of this kind of people, stay quiet Paul.

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    • Posted by Thumbs Down on

      Mr. Murphy is pointing out facts to people here with opinions. And he is listing his real name while doing so. The internet needs more people like him.

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      • Posted by Sips on

        No, he gives orders and lectures and talks over people, all based on his opinions and behaves as if he is an authority on everything. The fact that he uses his name is meaningless. He does not live in this city, so I’m not sure why he is giving directions to anyone here.

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