Major Susan Magill, public affairs officer for the Northern Military Unit of the CAF – Joint Task Force North – told CBC News on Saturday that one of the water purification units had arrived in the city that day. and that another was expected on Sunday. The city has been in a state of emergency since October 12, when staff confirmed evidence of fuel contamination. Residents have been told that the city’s treated water is not safe to drink even though it is filtered and boiled.
“We are in the very early stages of this task,” she said. “The very first wave of personnel and equipment landed today and more will follow in the coming days. ”
Magill said there would be fewer than 20 military personnel sent to Iqaluit in total – and that between 10 and 12 of those personnel would be operators for the water purification units.
She also said the units are “complex” and need a good location with access to water and space for trucks to transport water. Those details, she said, will be determined in consultation with the city of Iqaluit.
“I think it is too early to give an exact date but we hope, within a week, to be able to put both units into service,” she said.
Workers and city residents have collected water from the Sylvia Grinnell River, but an alternative solution is needed as the river begins to freeze, Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell told CBC News Network on Wednesday. .
On Friday, he said a request was made last week to the Government of Canada to repair the city’s long-term water supply, which he said was “in the range of $ 180 million” .
City administrative director Amy Elgersma said an investigation revealed “potential soil or groundwater contamination” outside the Iqaluit water treatment plant. She said it “may have seeped” into one of the town’s two water tanks.
Phase 2 of an environmental assessment – the underground investigation – has begun, Elgersma said, and the city is awaiting drill samples early next week.
Dr Michael Patterson, chief public health officer for Nunavut, said officials want to be 100% certain the water is safe to drink before lifting the order not to consume. No date for picking up the order has been set.