Oct 26, 2021

Canadian Armed Forces Arrive in Iqaluit to Deliver Clean Drinking Water

The military was deployed to Iqaluit, Canada, to coordinate and deliver clean drinking water

clean drinking water

The Canadian Armed Forces members have arrived in Iqaluit, Canada, to assist with the city’s ongoing water emergency.

According to Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq, the military would be deployed to Iqaluit to coordinate and deliver clean drinking water, reported The Toronto Star.

There are over 20 Canadian Armed Forces members in Iqaluit setting up deployable equipment for reverse osmosis water purification. Major Susan Magill, a public information officer for Joint Task Force North, said one purification unit arrived in Iqaluit in a military jet and that a second was on its way Oct. 24, reported The Toronto Star.

“We’re still in the process of trying to find a good site to put these two units on,” said Magill, reported The Toronto Star.

Iqaluit has 8,000 residents who have not been able to consume tap water for nearly two weeks after fuel was found in samples. Instead, residents are collecting water from the city’s Sylvia Grinnell River and picking up free bottled water from distribution sites.

Local officials have yet to identify the source of the contamination.

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The purified water will be stored in large bladders, and then the city will collect it in trucks for distribution. At 8 degrees Celsius, one of the units can purify 5,000 liters per hour if the water is passed through the system once, according to Magill. It could take a few days or a week before the units are ready to produce water for consumption, and the deployment is scheduled to last until Nov. 17.

“Recent test results show that water in the city’s distribution system were below levels concerning for health,” stated a press release by the city. “While the city is conducting work to remove remaining hydrocarbons from the water treatment system, specifically in the treated reservoir storage tanks. The contamination is presenting as hydrophobic and tends to remain on the surface which means it can be removed directly from those tanks using a vacuum system, preventing the contamination from entering the city’s distribution system.”

That system has been flushed out, but the city said it will need to be done again and an order not to consume the water remains in place.

According to the territory’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson in a news conference, residents may still smell fuel in their water even though the city has bypassed the contaminated tank, reported The Toronto Star. He added that the health risks to residents who drank the city’s tap water are very low.

An Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) Phase II, subsurface investigation has begun, according to the city. Contractors will begin drilling to take soil and groundwater samples from outside the water treatment plant. The sampling program is testing for hydrocarbons throughout the water treatment processes and within the distribution system. 

The city is also implementing an online, real time water monitoring station focusing on detecting and trending hydrocarbons.

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