Low water, deep ice behind Rankin water concerns

by Darrell Greer- June 8, 2018

Although unsightly and annoying, the discoloured drinking water of Rankin Inlet poses no health risks to residents, said the hamlet SAO.

Justin Merritt said the hamlet is aware of the ongoing concerns with discoloured water flowing from taps in Rankin, especially in Area 6, and it is working with Community and Government Services and the Department of Health to investigate the issue.

Hamlet SAO Justin Merritt deals with a call concerning the discolouration of drinking water in Area 6 on June 1 in Rankin Inlet. Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

He said there is no health concern and that the water is safe to drink.

“The water was tested a number of times and there were no concerns raised with me when the results came back, so I assume it’s OK,” he said.

No one is quite sure why the water is more discoloured in Area 6 than in other areas but it appears the root of the problem is related to low water levels and lots of ice, he said.

“That ice is pretty far down, so they think that’s what’s probably causing the problem,” he said. “The system is dredging water from near the bottom, as opposed to other years when there was more water and less ice.”

Merritt said discolouration can result from change in the flow of water in the system, which can cause sediment in the pipes to loosen and be released into the water.

He said anyone with discoloured water in their household or business should run the cold water tap until it becomes clear.

A boil water advisory could be imposed if the situation worsens, he said.

“If a boil water advisory is released, then everything changes and we’d meet with the health officer and Public Works to come-up with a strategy like we did a few years ago,” he said. “Public Works will keep us informed if anything changes. We have to keep an eye on things out of concern for the public, but, for now, there are no safety issues with drinking the water according to Nunavut’s Department Public Health.”

Merritt said he’s been given no time frame as to when the situation may begin to clear up but that Public Health and Public Works continue to monitor the situation.

“As it gets warmer, the water will deepen and it won’t, obviously, be taken from the bottom as much. I would think we’d start to see improvement when it reaches that point,” he said. “I don’t know enough about our 40-year-old system to have an opinion on whether that’s playing a role in this or not.

“As long as there’s no warnings or advisories issued by Public Health, all we can do at this point is monitor the situation, wait for the weather to warm and see if it clears,” he added.

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