Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut May 08, 2012 - 10:30 am

Kugaaruk still struggles with water supply problems

SAO says water safe to drink; resident says it's not

DAVID MURPHY

The Hamlet of Kugaaruk is still struggling with longstanding water supply problems, with some people alleging that a temporary water source is making people sick.

Some people of Kugaaruk may be getting sick from drinking tap water in the community, a source in the community told Nunatsiaq News last week.

A lake that the hamlet currently gets its water from was once used for cleaning sewage truck pipes, a resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, said in an email.

“Now they say the water samples are fine, but the water coming out of our tanks are brown, kids are getting the stomach flu, numerous kids are getting some kind of skin rash, even some are worst than others,” the message said.

Kugaaruk, home to about 800 people, has had a tough time with its water supply ever since a tidal surge late last year pushed salt water into the fresh water reservoir they normally use.

The reservoir froze, and the water was deemed undrinkable after samples showed up to five times the acceptable amount of salt content in the water.

A pump house was then relocated upstream, sitting on frozen ice, to pump fresh water to the community, but has since been removed after the ice thawed.

Since then water has been coming from a body of water that local people call, “Swimming Lake,” but officials say it’s fine to drink. 

“I am not aware of any children getting sick in Kugaaruk because of water that we are delivering,” said the acting senior administrative officer, Gord Dinney.

“We recently moved to a lake for water only after the water samples were sent to Yellowknife for testing and confirmed by health officials that the water was OK for drinking,” he said.

The tests, he said, confirmed that coliform and e-coli are absent from the water the hamlet is supplying.

The mayor of Kugaaruk, Stephan Inaksujak, said the water isn’t brown, but it’s not clear either.

“I’ve heard a few people complaining about the water, but no one getting sick,” he said.

“I guess it’s okay to get water there. But myself, I just get fresh water by snowmobile. But [the] tap water, I don’t drink it,” said Inaksujak, who also says most people snowmobile 11 km to another lake to get fresh water.

“Well, even before people would go there to get their fresh water,” he said.

The hamlet expects the original reservoir to be flushed out by spring runoff.

“Once the water in the river begins to flow and the ice begins to melt, the water supply will be flushed of salt and we will be able to go back to our regular pump house and water supply,” said Dinney.

Dinney encourages anybody who has issues with the drinking water to contact him directly or visit the Kugaaruk hamlet office to discuss the matter. His email address is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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