North

Water woes in Wemindji: service expected back tonight

Residents in the James Bay community of Wemindji are into their second day without running water and officials are advising people to boil any river water collected for at least 20 minutes before consuming it.

Some people in the community say the lack of running water is a recurring problem.

The Wemindji Fire Department has set up a pumping station to supply the community with wash water and to use for flushing toilets. (Facebook)

Residents in the James Bay community of Wemindji are into their second day without running water and officials are advising people to boil any river water collected for at least 20 minutes before consuming it, as a precaution.

"Sales have definitely gone up for [bottled] water and, like, my whole shelf is almost gone now," said Brandon Gull, junior manager at the Wemindji community store.

Gull says people are mostly taking the inconvenience in stride. 

"[They say] 'I wish I could have a shower or whatever or I wish I could have coffee'," said Gull. "It's not harsh complaints. It's more just an inconvenience."

Recurring problem

Gull, lives with his grandmother in the community of more than 16-hundred people, on the coast of James Bay about 13 hundred kilometres north of Montreal. He says it's not the first time this has happened.

Employees at the Wemindji community store say residents are taking the inconvenience in stride. (Francine Labbé)

"We just always have, like, at least three jugs of water ready for whenever this happens, because it happens a lot," said Gull, adding residents also collect water from a nearby river and boil it up to drink or use it for toilets. 

Officials in Wemindji were not available to comment on the ongoing water issues but have shared through social media, that the most recent problems started Monday.

"We lost water in both reservoirs due to high pressure, which emptied our reservoirs. We are having problems with our filtration system," said the statement, adding that the reservoirs needed to be filled to 50 per cent capacity before they could turn the water to the community back on. 

I don't think people are really prepared.- George Atsynia, Wemindji resident

Another statement from the Wemindji's water department, issued just after 9 a.m. on Tuesday, said technicians needed to shut the system down again to wash the filters. 

"We expect to be able to restore water this evening," read the statement. "Thank you for your continued patience." 

The fire department has set up a pumping station for residents to get water for washing and toilets. The local medical clinic has been closed since the issues began and a nurse is on call to deal with emergencies.

"I have water stored in my house for washing and brushing my teeth and stuff like that," said Wemindji resident George Atsynia, who works as assistant manager at the Wemindji community store.

"I don't think people are really prepared."

The telephone number for the nurse on call is 819-978-0225.