With a lack of water deliveries in Ivujivik, residents have had to fill jugs from a nearby river, and transport them back to town on snowmobiles. (Photo courtesy of Adamie Kalingo)

‘We feel dirty’: Ivujivik water shortage creates health, hygiene concerns

Recent delay in deliveries caused by breakdown of community water truck and vandalism, says mayor Adamie Kalingo

By Jeff Pelletier

A lack of water deliveries in Ivujivik has negatively impacted the health of residents, says a local teacher.

Milena Racheva, a 10-year resident of Ivujivik who lives with her son and husband, said her family and several neighbours stopped receiving weekly water deliveries more than a month ago.

Ivujivik, a village at the northern tip of Quebec’s Ungava peninsula that has a population of around 400, depends on water deliveries from a single municipal truck, which is prone to break down, Racheva said.

She said the lack of running water in homes that haven’t received deliveries has made it impossible for some to shower and flush their toilets. She also said children and families are getting sick.

“Me and my husband, we can put the water in the toilet to flush, but my neighbours, they can’t use their toilet for one week now,” she said. “We feel dirty … We didn’t take showers for almost two weeks.”

The most recent breakdown, which occurred at the end of January, was caused by vandalism on the heated garage in which the municipality stores its water truck, said Mayor Adamie Kalingo.

“A person entered the building and proceeded to destroy the garage door,” he said. “The vehicles started to freeze because of the cold weather coming in.”

Kalingo said nobody has been arrested for the vandalism, to his knowledge.

Without water deliveries, many people in Ivujivik have resorted to getting on their snowmobiles and filling jugs with water from the river, Racheva said — a tedious and potentially dangerous task in Quebec’s northernmost community.

“They go by Ski-Doo, it’s around maybe 20 minutes from here,” she said. “There’s days when it’s -47 C, it’s not good for the Ski-Doo.”

Kalingo said that his community’s water issues go beyond the most recent truck breakdown, and staff from Kativik Regional Government’s municipal works department have flown into the community to assess its needs.

The “decades-old” water system, which includes a pump at a reservoir that connects to a filtration system by a long pipe, has fallen into disrepair over the years, he said.

“We’re back to the Stone Age where we don’t use the pipeline system,” he said. “The water truck has to go to the water point now.”

With KRG staff in town to check in on the system, Kalingo said he hopes his community can get support to fix the community’s water system and truck so residents can access a consistent and safe water supply.

“I will be updated as to what’s happening and what can or cannot be done,” he said. “This has been, for too long, a service that is not rendered properly.”

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(3) Comments:

  1. Posted by 867 on

    We’ve all heard of people committing dumb crimes, but vandalizing your town’s municipal garage which houses your only water truck really takes the cake.

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  2. Posted by Nuna-Vik not Nunavut on

    It must be Que… teachers are allowed to talk to the media. That isn’t allowed in NU. Have to rely on your Union that sends out emails to membership letting them know they are displeased about untimely mistreatments from the employer.
    Another useless email in other words…
    Thanks Kivalliq and Kitikmeot don’t think Qikiqtani can “match it.”

  3. Posted by on-looker on

    with so many vandalism and violence going on in every community, i think the organizations should start installing cameras. they are not expensive at all. that would really cut down crime. even personally, at home ,we installed our own security cameras due to thefts n vandalisms. and it has cut down dramatically.

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