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No completion date for pumphouse repair work as Kinngait, Nunavut, faces chronic water shortage

Kinngait, Nunavut, in 2018. Mayor Jimmy Manning said the hamlet's big holding tank has been shut off and cleaned as people work to fix the 30-year-old water system. (Travis Burke/CBC - image credit)
Kinngait, Nunavut, in 2018. Mayor Jimmy Manning said the hamlet's big holding tank has been shut off and cleaned as people work to fix the 30-year-old water system. (Travis Burke/CBC - image credit)

The community of Kinngait, Nunavut, is again contending with a water supply shortage as repair work is done on the region's water pumphouse.

"This situation has slowed down about 60 per cent of the water delivery into the homes of the people of Kinngait," Mayor Jimmy Manning said in an interview on CBC Nunavut morning radio show Qulliq.

The territorial government declared a state of emergency in the hamlet of about 1,400 people in May because of an electrical problem that resulted in the water pumphouse breaking down.

Manning said now the big holding tank has been shut off and is being cleaned in an effort to fix the 30-year-old system, but there has yet to be a timeline for when the repair work will be done.

As the school year begins, students at Sam Pudlat School are also dealing with a lack of running water.

Simiga Suvega, chair of the local district education authority, said schools are using bottled water for drinking.

"Right now, there is available drinking water for the students in both the high school and elementary school, and they have a breakfast and lunch programs in elementary school," she said.

Suvega said Sam Pudlat School and Peter Pitseolak High School will be conserving water for now.

Earlier this year, water had to be delivered to Kinngait through cargo when the pumphouse broke down.

Though some water deliveries are being made to homes in the community, the hamlet has been asked to conserve water.

Manning said David Joanasie, the minister of Community and Government Services, is aware of the issue and that the Nunavut government helped pay for cleaning out the holding tank.

"We're trying to do our very best to get [the] water system back, running normal again," said Manning, while thanking community members for their patience.