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Health department lifts Iqaluit boil water advisory after investigating new bypass system

Nunavut's health department has lifted a boil water advisory in Iqaluit, saying a bypass system set up in the wake of a fuel contamination late last year is providing safe drinking water to residents. People had started reporting the smell of fuel in their tap water again earlier this month.

Influx of fuel smell reports in city water prompted advisory 9 days ago

Iqaluit residents collecting water from the Sylvia Grinnell River on Jan. 14 after fuel smells were reported in the city's water supply again. The Health Department issued a boil water advisory a few days later, which was lifted on Friday. (Jackie McKay/CBC)

A boil water advisory for trucked and piped water in Iqaluit has been lifted nine days after fuel was detected in the city's water supply again. 

Nunavut's chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, said the Jan. 19 advisory had been issued after small amounts of hydrocarbons were detected in the water that morning, and twice the previous week. 

The city built a bypass at its water treatment plant as part of a list of requirements from the territorial government in order to lift a do-not-consume order that lasted from October to December last year. 

After analyzing test results from the past week, the territory's Department of Health said in a statement Friday the water flowing through the bypass system's treatment process is safe to drink without boiling.

"The boil water advisory was a routine, temporary and precautionary measure to ensure safe water quality after the city switched its water delivery system to the bypass," the statement reads. It said precautionary advisories are issued anytime there is a "significant change" to the water treatment process.

Iqaluit began investigating complaints in the second week of January that a fuel odour had returned to its tap water. On Jan. 17, Mayor Kenny Bell told CBC News the city had received 116 phone calls from residents reporting the smell.

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