Water Quality Emergency Final Investigation Report to Council

May 05, 2022

Public Service Announcement

Water Quality Emergency Final Investigation Report to Council

May 5, 2022 – Iqaluit, Nunavut


The City of Iqaluit is currently bypassing all tanks in the Water Treatment Plant (WTP) while maintaining disinfection through Ultraviolet light and Chlorine.  This bypass is expected to remain in operation until a permanent tank solution is implemented. The drinking water continues to be safe to consume.  


The City has completed its investigation into two water quality events, the first occurred in October 2021 and the second occurred in January 2022.  Chemical experts, process engineers and structural engineers have concluded that these were two separate and distinct events arising from two unique sources.


October 2021 Event

  • The October 2021 event was the result of a spill originating from an abandoned historic underground fuel storage tank, which leaked into the “Void”, an area adjacent to/underneath the WTP.
  • The Government of Nunavut’s Department of Health issued a “Do Not Consume” Water Advisory on October 12, in relation to this event.
  • The City hired chemical experts who carry out forensic fingerprint analysis on the material in the historical underground tank and have confirmed that this material matches the water samples taken during the October event as well as the reading from the S::CAN monitoring device.
  • The City of Iqaluit worked with partners across the City and all levels of government to provide Iqalummiut with access to potable water, during the Do Not Consume period.
  • The City worked with engineering consultants and third-party contractors to identify, understand and remediate the contamination by:
    • Installing and calibrating an S::CAN hydrocarbon monitoring system.
    • Removing and testing the historic underground storage tank.
    • Cleaning and remediating the area under the WTP known as the “Void”.
    • Pressure washing the affected underground tanks.
    • Vigorously flushing the water distribution system.
    • Conducting a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment around the perimeter of the Water Treatment Plant.  
    • Designing and constructing the Water Treatment Plant bypass system which was to be used in the event of a future emergency.
  • The Government of Nunavut’s Department of Health rescinded the Do Not Consume Advisory on December 10, 2022.


January 2022 Event

  • It is the expert’s assessment that the January 2022 water quality event was not connected to the historic underground fuel storage tank at the WTP.
  • This event was linked to a material that was installed in/on the walls of certain tanks, during construction in 2003 & 2004 at the WTP. The material is a bitumen type material and serves as a water-stop. The material was covered with a thin grout like layer that had degraded over time, exposing it and allowing it to come in contact the water in the tanks.
  • At the time of construction, this material was NSF 61 approved, which means it was considered acceptable for this purpose.
  • The chemical experts also carried out forensic fingerprint analysis on this product and have confirmed that the water stop material matches the material found in the tank walls, the S::CAN results and in the samples of the water itself.
  • The types of contaminates in this event were F3 and F4 petroleum hydrocarbons (PHC). By contrast the material in the October event was proven to be F1 and F2 type PHCs.
  • Following the event, the City of Iqaluit immediately implemented a multi-tank bypass which completely bypasses all concrete tanks in the WTP.


The water produced by the City of Iqaluit continues to meet or exceed the Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines and goes through rigorous testing, including:


  • Real time water quality monitoring with two S::CAN monitoring devices, one on the raw water entering the plant and one on the finished water leaving the plant.
  • Weekly testing for BTEX/PHC[F1-F4], which tests for Petroleum Hydrocarbons in the water, using 11 different parameters.
  • As well as all other daily and weekly water quality monitoring and testing as required by legislation.


WSP has prepared a summary report title “City of Iqaluit Water Quality Emergency - Summary Report for Distribution” which has been release on the City of Iqaluit website.





For additional information, please contact:

Aleksey Cameron

Communications and Customer Service Manager

City of Iqaluit

867-979-5607 | a.cameron@iqaluit.ca

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