Nunavut sees 5-year high for water advisories in 2021

Advisories more than tripled since 2017 without counting Iqaluit water emergency

Eight communities in Nunavut have been under a boil water advisory or a do not drink advisory in 2021 so far. (Map by Mélanie Ritchot/Mapline.com)

By Mélanie Ritchot

Nunavut communities have seen a five-year high of water advisories in 2021, without counting Iqaluit’s ongoing water emergency.

As of Friday, about a month before the year’s end, 14 water advisories had been issued in seven communities outside of the capital city this year, more than tripling the four advisories issued in 2017.

Nunavut’s MP Lori Idlout spoke about the lack of clean water in Indigenous communities across Canada on Thursday.

“We Indigenous people can no longer be discounted or written off in hopes that we disappear,” she said in Inuktitut in the House of Commons.

“I know I have to keep repeating ‘clean water for all indigenous communities,'” Idlout said.

“This is not the first time and I will repeat it again.”

So far, there have only been five months without an active boil-water advisory somewhere in Nunavut this year.

The City of Iqaluit issues its water advisories itself, meaning it’s not included in the advisories tracked by the Government of Nunavut, said Danarae Sommerville, a spokesperson for the Department of Health.

Across Nunavut, numbers from 2019 came closest to this year’s rate of advisories with 10 issued. There were eight advisories in 2020 and five in 2018.

Igloolik residents couldn’t drink their tap water for five months this year, making them the community under an advisory for the longest period of time this year.

The advisory, which was put in place in Igloolik on July 12 because of high turbidity levels, was lifted on Nov. 8.

A four-month advisory — split up by a couple weeks without an advisory — in Baker Lake was lifted in September, after the better part of a summer without clean tap water.

In August, Sommerville said this is usually a seasonal issue that increases during spring ice break-up.

Over the last five years, advisories have been issued because of high turbidity levels, coliform levels and other infrastructure-related reasons, such as during transitions to opening new water treatment plants.

Maintenance and operational issues have also been the cause of advisories.

Clyde River residents were without clean water for most of November because of issues with a water pump.

In Iqaluit, hydrocarbon contaminants have made the tap water undrinkable for about two months so far.

Clyde River and Iqaluit have the only active water advisories in place as of Friday, Somerville said.

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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by The Water Guy on

    Issues

    1. Lack of Capital Funding
    2. Lack of educated trained certified operators and managers
    3. Senior managers in charge that should not be anyway near making water decisions
    4. Climate
    5. No certified lab in 3 regions in Nunavut to do weekly testing
    6. Procurement policies that keep purchasing water plants that are lemons
    7. Operator testing

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  2. Posted by Think About It on

    Issues

    1. Lack of Capital Funding
    a) Do your homework, look at the amount allotted to new plants in the GN’s Capital Plan and then look at the amounts carried over year after year

    2. Lack of educated trained certified operators and managers
    b) There are programs like Circuit Rider from the Feds, and MTO, NAC. Lots of opportunities maybe just no one willing to follow through.

    3. Senior managers in charge that should not be anyway near making water decisions
    c) Too broad to comment

    4. Climate
    d) The climate will change the water, but not the fact that Nunavut does not have any properly functioning compliant water treatment water plants.

    5. No certified lab in 3 regions in Nunavut to do weekly testing
    e) The process to certify (CALA) a lab is rigorous and un-necessary when a simple table top test is sufficient, Send your samples to Ottawa, Winnipeg, or Edmonton for licensing requirements.

    6. Procurement policies that keep purchasing water plants that are lemons
    f) I doubt that it is the policies of the Procurement department. The winning firm and the GN agree on a price, usually the lowest, and as things happen, the tangibles are probably the first things cut. reserve stock, training, tech support

    7. Operator testing
    Please see b

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  3. Posted by The Water Guy on

    Issues

    1. Lol, Nunavut waits for feds for funding of drinking water projects. I missed my homework, how much funding is needed for critical water infrastructure, I’ll take a guess Nunavut alone is well over a billion. Where is this funding again and how much is allotted?
    2. Provinces and territories have written into law who can operate and manage water plants, was it not Public Health who recently decided not to include this into their regulations?
    3.Senior Managers who have no background in Engineering or Operations running the water plants, yes nothing bad would ever come of that.
    4.Articles discusses BWA, weather plays a huge factor in getting timely results.
    5. Baloney, labs can be set up with trained Inuk staff doing the testing.. Also, see 4.
    6.Once the lemon plant is in operation, you have 20 years of problems that could have been avoided due to cheapest price, so yes Procurement buying cheapest due to policy is a factor.
    7. See 2

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  4. Posted by Spurious connections on

    It’s a strange thing when you pick up a more nuanced and informative perspective on an issue when reading the comments than from reading the story itself, but here we are.

    A sweeping generalization like “We Indigenous people can no longer be discounted or written off in hopes that we disappear” as if the poor water quality issues in Nunavut are the direct result of an attempt by the federal governments to exterminate Inuit is frankly absurd. Is this the kind of non-sense we are to expect from you for this term, Lori?

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    • Posted by Par for the course on

      Say hello to Mumilaaq light… this is the NDP don’t forget.

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