For years people in Iqaluit have feared their water, now it’s undrinkable

The distance between Lake Geraldine, the main source of water for Iqaluit and the 7,000 people who live in Nunavut’s capital is less than two kilometres.

At some point in between those two locations – petroleum hydrocarbons leached into the drinking water forcing Nunavut health to issue a do not consume order on Tuesday.

“The water in Iqaluit, it’s got to be fixed right away,” says Mosha Pudloo.

Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell announced on social media Tuesday afternoon that an investigation into drinking water is ongoing. But three hours later, after an emergency meeting of council, the order went out for people not to use the water from their taps.

Iqaluit has a number of boil-water advisories each year – usually when a pipe is repaired and sediment is dislodged.

On Oct. 10, the city announced that it was investigating numerous complaints about the water.

“The City continues to investigate concerns from residents regarding reports of a fuel odor in the drinking water.  The City of Iqaluit continues to investigate, test, and monitor our drinking water daily.  No water quality advisory is being issued at this time. Drinking water testing to date are satisfactory,” a statement from the city said.

But this is different – you can’t boil or filter the chemicals in the drinking water that is flowing now.

It’s bad enough that pregnant women and parents with infants are being warned not to bathe their children in it.

Elders or people with special needs are being asked to call 979-5603 during business hours if they have any questions or need help.

A local state of emergency has been declared, schools and offices are closed and the territorial government says it’s flying in 80,000 litres of bottled water to help.

Testing will take five business days.

At the moment, residents are filling pots, bottles or anything else that carries water at the Sylvia Grinnell River. It’s a popular spot to get fresh water even when the pipes are providing potable water.

A truck is also filling up to take water into town.

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