Nunavut Post

The former Nunavut spills the beans on the city of Iqaluit’s water crisis

Iqaluit's water crisis

Key Takeaways:

  • In early October, when strange, fuel-like odours were coming from the taps.
  • Former Nunavut deputy chief public health officer claims she raised concerns with the City of Iqaluit regarding the accuracy of water testing at the city’s facilities.

Dr. Anne, who is no longer in the position, told News that “it was challenging to receive information that first week.” She initially stated that the city “had no idea who I was.”

Her fears were realized in the days that followed when she discovered that the initial water samples sent to an Ottawa lab hadn’t been collected correctly.

“I was concerned because I didn’t know how much that might have an impact on the findings,” Huang explained from Regina. She started as the deputy chief public health officer in April. She was in charge of environmental health while working with the territory’s chief public health officer on COVID-19. Her six-month contract with the region expired at the end of October.

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Huang also asked if the city tested specifically for hydrocarbon contamination, claiming that she and her colleagues could detect a fuel odour from their taps, despite social media posts claiming the same thing. She stated that she wanted to rule out the odor caused by petroleum hydrocarbons entering the drinking water system.

Nunavut deputy chief public health officer Iqaluit’s water crisis; Image from Global News

By Oct. 12, the 8,000-person city was under a do-not-consume order that would last nearly two months. The town would eventually point to a possible underground fuel spill as the source of the contamination.

Huang stated that she advised both the city and Nunavut’s health department to emphasize that the preliminary test results were not conclusive.

The City of Iqaluit issued a release on Oct. 10 asking residents to report any odors coming from their taps and stating that no water quality advisory was in effect at the time. “To date, drinking water testing has been satisfactory.”

Nunavut’s health unit issued the do not consume order two days later.

“Previous test results seen that the risk of contamination was low at the time and that the water was safe to drink,” the order stated. Despite the initial communication difficulties, Huang started a steady flow of information from the city in the days.

She did, however, say that the public has a right to know how those in charge handled the situation.

Source: CBC News

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