Iqaluit residents can drink city water again after 60-day health order

About 10,000 of Iqaluit’s 15,000 residents were under an initial consumption order, which bans the use of tap water until testing showed the toxin levels had fallen below allowable limits

Iqaluit residents can drink city water again after 60-day health order

All of Iqaluit’s 15,000 residents can drink city water again, but must remain bottled up during a 60-day health warning.

A preliminary test of the city’s water released on Sunday found traces of the toxic compound methanol, prompting a 20-day drinking order on a city whose residents make their living from Alaskan gold and whale oil.

Known as the “Russian plumber’s poison”, methanol is often produced by low-quality heating and can be toxic to aquatic life.

The Iqaluit drinking water ban was lifted on Monday after no traces of methanol were found during subsequent tests, said Nia Cape, a health officer in Arctic Canada.

Banned in Iqaluit: residents struggling to cope as health warning remains Read more

“If we would have discovered the presence of methanol that would have been a serious cause for concern for us,” Cape said.

In 2016, Iqaluit, an Arctic city roughly 200 miles (320km) north of the Arctic Circle, experienced a similar ban after a months-long dry spell left the city dependent on thousands of litres of bottled water every day.

Following a plan to develop a system to store water at the city’s waste water treatment facility, the ban was lifted after 90 days.

Last week Cape said Iqaluit residents were still turning to restaurants, hotels and their own storage of water for cooking and drinking.

When Iqaluit declared a drinking water ban last month, Cape said residents were confused about the risk and at first couldn’t believe that it was safe to drink.

There had been concerns that the public water system was contaminated after a leak or fuel spill into a pipeline on 25 December but Cape said there was no evidence to support that, and there were no contaminated schools or hospitals.

The announcement of the ban last week came amid record cold in Iqaluit and high levels of sugar content in the city’s water supply.

More than 900 homes were impacted by the ban, Cape said, and some were without heat, electricity and water. Since the ban began, some residents had managed to wait out the ban by storing water indoors, including swimming pools.

The city plans to deploy six trucks to distribute bottled water daily, and Cape said the city plans to increase the distribution to 25 trucks next week.

More than 2,000 people had taken advantage of free 5,000-litre containers of water distributed by the local emergency services organization.

Once the ban is lifted, residents will be given a 30-day supply of tap water, Cape said.

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