Military resumes purifying river water in Iqaluit as city searches for solution to plastic bottle waste

·2 min read
Members of the Canadian Armed Forces ready a water pump in Iqaluit, Nunavut, on Nov. 10, 2021. After a winter storm waylaid their efforts to purify river water for the city, the military says their purification system is back up and running. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dustin Patar (The Canadian Press - image credit)
Members of the Canadian Armed Forces ready a water pump in Iqaluit, Nunavut, on Nov. 10, 2021. After a winter storm waylaid their efforts to purify river water for the city, the military says their purification system is back up and running. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dustin Patar (The Canadian Press - image credit)

Two weeks after a winter storm in Iqaluit took down the tent that housed the Canadian Armed Forces' water purification system, their efforts to provide the city with clean drinking water have resumed.

On Monday, the City of Iqaluit announced residents can get purified river water from the military's purification system at Abe Okpik Hall or Elder's Qammaq, but they have to bring their own buckets or jugs — the water depots are no longer providing bottled water.

The depots are open every day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., including weekends.

In a Tuesday morning Facebook post, the city explained how the water is purified and said the water that goes through the military's purification system is safe to drink.

Iqaluit's 8,000 residents have spent the last eight weeks unable to drink the city's water due to concerns about fuel contamination. The military has been helping with the water crisis in Iqaluit since Oct. 23.

The original plan, which involved using a reverse osmosis water purifier at the Sylvia Grinnell River, was waylaid Nov. 22 by a storm that snapped the frame of a military tent that sheltered clean water bladders from the reverse osmosis system.

After that, the military moved its purification system to an indoor facility, citing continuing bad weather as a hazard to both the system and military personnel.

Major Susan Magill, the public affairs officer for Joint Task Force North, said the City of Iqaluit has extended its request for assistance until Dec. 22, with the possibility of a two-week extension.

Plastic problem

On Monday, the City of Iqaluit began asking residents to take a series of measures to help manage the waste created by empty plastic water bottles — including crushing the bottles, putting the lids back on the crushed bottles and putting them in recycling bags.

In a public service announcement that day, the city asked residents to keep those recyclables until the city can develop a plan to manage them.

"It is the City's intention to divert as many of these bottles as possible from the City landfill," stated the announcement.

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