Iqaluit gets 30 emergency calls for water delivery after extreme cold suspends truck services

In times of extreme cold, service is suspended to protect the health of employees.

Extreme cold in Iqaluit led to service suspension Friday and Sunday, and 30 calls for emergency water delivery

Temperatures dipped below -50 C with the windchill over the weekend. The cold caused suspension of trucked services. (Angela Hill/CBC News)

A windchill value below –50 C in Iqaluit meant the suspension of trucked water and sewage services on Friday and Sunday.

According to the city, this led to about 30 emergency water delivery "call outs" — after-hours requests for water. Iqaluit's Public Works Department received 10 calls for water Friday and 20 call outs on Sunday.

"Every call that was provided to Public Works, that we received from dispatch, we immediately went out and we provided water," said Andrea Spitzer, communications manager for the city.

But a complaint posted on Facebook suggested someone didn't receive water after calling. Spitzer said Public Works is looking into this.

"We are going to be looking internally to make sure the lines of communication are open. The threshold is that when somebody calls our dispatch, that immediately gets dispatched to public works and we send out our water trucks," Spitzer said.

The city trucks water and sewage services to about 472 houses on a required basis. Spitzer said most people get water every two to three days.

It's rare that trucked services are delayed for many days in a row, and Spitzer said the last time was during blizzards in the spring of 2016.

In times of extreme cold, service is suspended to protect the health of employees.

"[Employees] could be outside for prolonged periods, so in order to safeguard against hypothermia or frostbite, especially when we are dealing with –50 degree temperatures, that's why we suspend services. It's primarily for worker safety," Spitzer said.

Public Works employees are often out for long days after suspended services. Spitzer said on Saturday they worked for 16 hours.