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State of emergency declared in Kinngait, Nunavut, over water problems

Kinngait, Nunavut, in a file photo. An electrical problem at the community's pumphouse has limited the ability to distributed treated water in the hamlet of about 1,400.  (Sara Frizzell/CBC - image credit)
Kinngait, Nunavut, in a file photo. An electrical problem at the community's pumphouse has limited the ability to distributed treated water in the hamlet of about 1,400. (Sara Frizzell/CBC - image credit)

Water problems in Kinngait, Nunavut, have led the territorial government to declare a state of emergency in the South Baffin community of about 1,400.

Community and Government Services Minister David Joanasie, who is originally from Kinngait, declared the emergency Wednesday under Nunavut's Emergency Measures Act.

An electrical problem at the community's water pumphouse is the root of the problem. It's limiting the hamlet's ability to distribute treated water.

"Available reserve volumes have been depleted, posing a risk to both public health and community infrastructure," a news release reads.

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The water emergency echoes a similar situation in Iqaluit in the fall of 2021. In that case, fuel contamination at the city's water treatment plant forced people to rely on bottled water, or boiled water from the nearby river, for weeks.

Amid that crisis, the Canadian Armed Forces deployed a portable water treatment unit to produce safe drinking water from the Sylvia Grinnell River.

In addition, thousands of bottles of water were flown into the city.

The state of emergency declaration in Kinngait is intended to speed up the process for a government response to the problem. It also gives the government of Nunavut additional authority to control and assign assets.

People in the hamlet are being asked to conserve water.

The state of emergency takes effect now and will last 14 days.