In Coral Harbour, overcrowded homes run out of water

A recent survey in Coral Harbour, Nunavut found that more than half the households they interviewed ran out of water at least once a month, and had to postpone washing clothes and bathing children.
Researcher Kiley Daley and co-author and community researcher, Lorna Ell, went on community radio to talk about their findings. Over half of households they studied said they ran out of water at least once a month. (Courtesy Kiley Daley)

More than half of the people interviewed for a new study in Coral Harbour say they run out of water at least once a month.

And there’s one thing most of those homes have in common — they’re housing more people than they were built for.

"A house, let's say, that was typically designed for four or five people, the houses that instead had anywhere from five- to nine-plus people, seemed to be those… who were reporting water shortages,” said Kiley Daley, a graduate student at Dalhousie university who was the lead author of the recently published exploratory study.

The research project, published in the International Journal of Circumpolar Health, looked at 28 households in the hamlet, where water is trucked to homes. The research article says "the Territory of Nunavut faces serious overcrowding issues" and a problem with "hidden homeless," who live temporarily in other peoples' homes. 

People interviewed for the study said the water shortages sometimes affected whether they could bathe their children or wash their clothes.

Daley said the study estimated how much water each resident uses. 

While he has no immediate plans to conduct further research on the subject, he suggests a future study could track water shipments and measure water usage.

He said people in Coral Harbour approached him to do the study, while a group of researchers was looking at other issues related to water quality in the hamlet.