A small group of researchers is studying the Apex River near Iqaluit to see if it can be used as another source of water for the city. 

The city is looking for new ways to boost its drinking-water supply, but tests have to be carried out first to see if the river is safe and sustainable.

Melissa Lafrenière, an associate professor in geography at Queen's University, is leading the team of researchers who are working out of the Nunavut Research Institute. 

They're looking at months of water sampling by hand, checking the river's pH levels, electrical conductivity and temperature.

The samples will then get bottled and shipped back to the lab where they'll be analyzed for their mineral content.

Melissa Lafrenière Apex River Nunavut 2014

Melissa Lafrenière is an associate professor in geography at Queen's University, and is leading the team of researchers that's working out of the Nunavut Research Institute. (CBC)

Lafrenière says working in the North, so close to the community, is a unique experience for her.

"I have this opportunity to directly contribute knowledge that will provide an immediate benefit to the community."

The Apex River is about 20km long, running along the edge of Apex, a small satellite community east of Iqaluit.

City officials are eyeing it as a potential water source, but there are still many questions that need to be answered before the city can tap into the source, like figuring out if using the river as a water source will drain it dry.

Iqaluit's Matthew Gardner, a student at Nunavut Arctic College, traded in summer vacation for a chance to do field work with two grad students from the Southern Canada.

"I'm also curious about the environment. Learning about it and  trying to help preserve it."

Gardner and the rest of Lafrenière's team will spend the next few months repeating water-sampling work, and piece together a full picture of the Apex River by the fall.