Kugaaruk working to restore fresh water supply

People in Kugaaruk, Nunavut, are pulling together to keep the taps flowing after a tidal heave washed salt water into the community's fresh water reservoir last month.

Tidal heave washed salt water into reservoir last month

The building where the community is providing its fresh water supply since the regular reservoir became contaminated with sea water from a tidal heave. (Stephan Inaksajak)
People in the community are coming to the building to fill up with fresh water for their homes. (Stephan Inaksajak)

People in Kugaaruk, Nunavut, are pulling together to keep the taps flowing.

A tidal heave washed salt water into the community’s fresh water reservoir a few weeks ago. Tests indicate that the water in the reservoir has a salt content four to five times over accepted guidelines.

The hamlet has hired several people to haul water the old fashioned way - from a lake about 11 kilometres outside of town.

"They're using their snowmobiles with kamotiks and large water containers and, you know, you can imagine, it's kind of brutally cold and they're bringing the water from there on a regular basis and keeping the large water containers topped up," said Gord Dinney, the hamlet's acting Senior Administrative Officer.

The water is being kept in large containers in the fire hall where people can pick it up. The fresh water is also delivered to elders and others who cannot pick up water on their own.

Now, the Nunavut Department of Community and Government Services has hired contractors to build an ice road to a new fresh water supply a further two kilometres upstream from the current reservoir. That should get the water flowing by next week.

Schools and the local health centre have been given several distillers, which can supply 10 to12 gallons of good-quality water per machine every day.

Dinney said things are working well for now, but it's not clear what the hamlet will do for water when the ice road to the new reservoir melts.

Dinney said the hope is that the spring melt will flush the salt water out of the current reservoir.