The Hamilton Spectator - 2021-10-14


‘We knew something was wrong’



IQALUIT, NUNAVUT — Iqaluit residents filled blue plastic jugs and bottles Wednesday in the icecold Sylvia Grinnell River just outside the city after they were told tap water in the Nunavut capital may be unsafe to drink. The city of about 8,000 people declared a local state of emergency Tuesday night saying its water supply could contain fuel. Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell said Wednesday the Nunavut government plans to fly in 80,000 litres of water to the city over three days. Some residents complained last week on social media about a fuel smell in the water, but he said the water had gone through daily testing and it came back clean. Then, on Tuesday, Bell said city staff opened a “typically sealed” tank in the water treatment plant that holds treated water before it gets distributed throughout the city. “There was a strong smell of petroleum products,” Bell said. If the water in that location is affected, he said, it would mean all of the city’s water would be affected. “We knew something was wrong,” said Bell. “We’re not 100 per cent sure if this is it but it most likely is based on the amount of smell in the tank.” City officials said water samples have been sent to a lab in Southern Canada, but noted it will take about five business days to get those results back. In the meantime, the mayor said the city is cleaning the tank and inspecting its walls to look for cracks. “We don’t how it got there, why it’s there, what it is,” Bell said of the smell. City water trucks were also pumping water from the river late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. The city made treated water available to residents at a water filling station, but it still needs to be boiled. Andrew Tagak Jr., who had several water jugs to fill at the station, said he’s been able to get enough water for himself and the three other people in his household. “As long as I know it’s fresh, I’m happy,” Tagak Jr. told The Canadian Press.


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