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Military arrives in Iqaluit to set up reverse osmosis water purification

In a news release on Oct. 24, the city said the investigation into the cause of the tainted water has pointed to potential hydrocarbon contamination in the soil.

October 25, 2021  The Canadian Press

The Canadian Armed Forces says its members have arrived in Nunavut’s capital to assist with the city’s ongoing water emergency.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted on Oct. 22 that he had spoken with Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq and the military would be deployed to Iqaluit to co-ordinate and deliver clean drinking water.

On Oct. 23, the military tweeted that there are over 20 Canadian Armed Forces members in Iqaluit setting up deployable equipment for reverse osmosis water purification.

Maj. Susan Magill, a public information officer for Joint Task Force North, said one purification unit arrived in Iqaluit in a military jet on Oct. 23 and a second was on its way on Oct. 24.

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“It’s as big as a sea can and it comes loaded and ready to go on a truck. So when the aircraft opens up, the truck rolls out,” Magill said of the purification units during an interview on Oct. 24 in Iqaluit.

“We’re still in the process of trying to find a good site to put these two units on.”

Iqaluit’s 8,000 residents haven’t been able to consume tap water for nearly two weeks after fuel was found in samples.

Residents have been collecting water from the city’s Sylvia Grinnell River and picking up free bottled water from distribution sites, and local officials say they’re continuing efforts to identify the source of the contamination.

In a news release on Oct. 24, the city said the investigation into the cause of the tainted water has pointed to potential hydrocarbon contamination in the soil or ground water outside the municipal treatment plant, which it said may have leached into a storage tank.

“The in-ground tank containing the high concentrations of contaminants in the Water Treatment Plant has been isolated, pumped out for remediation and has undergone cleaning,” the release stated.

“The affected tank has been successfully bypassed and water continues to be treated and sent out to 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.