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How Iqaluit's water crisis is connected to climate change

After traces of fuel were confirmed in Iqaluit’s drinking water last week, the city has been under a state of emergency. Journalists Pauline Pemik and Jackie McKay explain what it will take to get the city’s taps flowing safely — for good.
Residents line up to fill containers with potable water in Iqaluit, Nunavut on Oct. 14, 2021. Nunavut's government has declared a 14-day state of emergency in its capital city after its water was deemed undrinkable and potentially tainted with petroleum. Potable water is arriving by plane. (Emma Tranter/The Canadian Press)

For more than a week, Iqaluit residents told their city officials they smelled fuel in the tap water. But it wasn't until last Tuesday that the city acknowledged people might be right.

Now, the Nunavut capital is under a state of emergency as the city scrambles to clean the water supply, and the territorial government is flying in bottled water. 

Jackie McKay and Pauline Pemik of CBC Nunavut say water crises like these in Nunavut are nothing new. They say they're directly tied to infrastructure gaps between the Arctic and the rest of Canada, the increasing impacts of climate change on the northern landscape and the federal government's failure of vision.

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