Military’s water purifiers back online in Iqaluit

The operation aimed at helping city through water emergency extended until Dec. 22.

By David Lochead, Nunatsiaq News - December 7, 2021
A military truck carrying the Canadian Armed Forces’ reverse osmosis water purification unit out of the plane upon its arrival in Iqaluit on Oct. 24. The military has been providing clean drinking water during the city’s water emergency, which began in mid-October. (Canadian Armed Forces via Nunatsiaq News)

The military’s water purification operation in Iqaluit is up and running again.

It’s now taking place inside the North American Aerospace Defense Command Forward Operating Location at Iqaluit’s airport.

Initially operating outdoors on the Sylvia Grinnell River, the operation was suspended on Nov. 23 after strong winds snapped the frame of a tent that was protecting the tanks of potable water from the elements.

The military required NORAD’s approval to move the water purification operation indoors. It received that approval at the end of November, said Maj. Susan Magill in an interview with Nunatsiaq News.

As well, the operation has been extended to Dec. 22, with the potential to be extended another two weeks. It was originally set to end Nov. 17, but was extended to Dec. 1, as the water emergency in Iqaluit approaches two months with no end in sight.

The Government of Nunavut ordered residents not to drink the city’s water on Oct. 12, after fuel was found in the city’s treated water supply. People in the city haven’t been able to drink their water since. Iqalummiut began complaining their water smelled like gas in early October.

The military arrived in late October, and started providing residents potable water purified through a reverse osmosis machine machine on Nov. 8.

The military will continue to pump water from the river, using two trucks equipped with water tanks, hoses and ice-breaking equipment. Once the water is trucked to the NORAD facility it will be purified and held in potable water tanks for the city to distribute.

The military’s potable water will be distributed indoors at the Elder’s Qammaq and Abe Okpik Hall every day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.