Boil water advisory issued for Sanikiluaq, lifted for Whale Cove

Sanikiluaq residents told to boil water for 1 full minute before drinking or using it to prepare food

-By Sima Sahar Zerehi, originally posted on November 7, 2016


A boil water advisory has been issued for Sanikiluaq as a precaution, says Nunavut’s Department of Health.

The advisory is based on tests that didn’t meet the criteria for the absence of total coliform bacteria, said Michele Le Blanc-Havard, the environmental health specialist with Department of Health.

Coliform bacteria is naturally found in the environment and was located in the community’s water reservoir as well as in the treated drinking water, said Le Blanc-Havard.

“It’s typically not disease or illness causing, it just provides us with an indicator that treatment methods may need to be looked at,” she said.

The Department of Health advises all water for consumption in Sanikiluaq must be boiled and come from the reverse osmosis taps that have been installed in each household. Store-bought bottle water is also safe to drink.

Water from the reverse osmosis taps must be brought to a rolling boil for a minimum of one full minute, including all water used for:

  • drinking
  • preparing infant formulas
  • preparing juices and ice cubes
  • washing fruits and vegetables
  • cooking
  • brushing of teeth

Water can be boiled in a pot or kettle on a stove, or in an electric kettle without an automatic shut-off.

Sanikiluaq has been struggling with various water issues all summer. In July every home in the community was outfitted with a reverse osmosis filtration system due to high levels of sodium in the community’s water. And in August a boil water advisory was issued due to the presence of E. coli in two locations.

Le Blanc-Havard said the Department of Community and Government Services is working with the hamlet to make sure that the appropriate treatment and disinfection of drinking water is occurring, including examining the chlorination levels in the water treatment plant and the functionality of the pumps.

The boil water advisory is not related to the sodium issue. Le Blanc-Havard said the reverse osmosis systems were installed to reduce sodium only.

Good news for Whale Cove

Meanwhile, people in Whale Cove can finally drink the water coming out of their taps without having to boil it first.

This year was the second year in a row that the Department of Health issued a lengthy boil water advisory for Whale Cove. Last year the hamlet was under a boil water advisory for three months starting in July and ending in late October. This year the boil water advisory was issued in mid-August and lifted Nov. 4.

To get the boil water advisory lifted, the hamlet of Whale Cove was required to have three consecutive bacteriological samples tests free from bacteria. Each sample was required to be separated by a 24-hour period, said Le Blanc-Havard.

Whale Cove produced five clean consecutive samples over the past few weeks, she said.

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