Nunavut declares state of emergency over Iqaluit water supply

The move allows the territorial government to ‘deploy necessary resources’ to protect public health and municipal infrastructure.

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Iqaluit residents line up to fill jugs of water at a fill station near the library on Wednesday morning. (Mélanie Ritchot / Nunatsiaq News)

The Government of Nunavut declared a state of emergency Thursday in response to the crisis in Iqaluit’s water supply, two days after the City of Iqaluit took the same step at the municipal level.

Since Tuesday, Iqaluit residents have been told not to drink the city’s tap water because the city suspects the water supply has been contaminated by some form of petroleum product.

Since early October, some city residents complained about an odor in the city’s water. Samples were collected earlier this week and sent to a lab in the south with results expected next week.

Community and Government Services Minister Jeannie Ehaloak declared the state of emergency under the territory’s Emergency Management Act.

[Iqaluit residents are frustrated over water contamination concerns]

The move took effect immediately, according to a government news release issued at 5:15 p.m. Thursday. The state of emergency will remain in effect for a two-week period ending Oct. 27.

“I want to assure the people of Nunavut, especially those in Iqaluit, that we are taking this water issue very seriously,” Ehaloak said.

The declaration allows the Nunavut government to “ensure the necessary supports are available to the City of Iqaluit and its residents,” the release states.

The Government of Nunavut says the step will allow it to move more quickly to “deploy necessary resources” to support the ongoing efforts to protect public health and the City of Iqaluit’s infrastructure.

The government news release did not elaborate what resources might be deployed. A department spokesperson could not be immediately reached for a comment.