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New water treatment plant needs tweaking
Cambridge Bay tap water is yellow, despite new filtration system

Beth Brown
Northern News Services
Saturday, January 21, 2017

Recent tests show there's nothing in Cambridge Bay's tap water - except chlorine - but residents are noticing a yellow tinge.

NNSL photo/graphic

Tap water in Cambridge Bay has been a yellow colour since November, despite the hamlet's new water treatment plant. The water is safe to drink and technicians are visiting this month to resolve the problem. - NNSL file photo

The discolouration began in November after the installation of a new state-of-the-art water treatment facility, and a change in chlorine brands.

Daily inspections show the water is safe for public consumption.

"We have no idea exactly what is it," said Shane Slifka, regional project manager for Community and Government Services in Cambridge Bay.

Adjustments have dramatically reduced the yellowness, "but there still needs to be some further work done," he said.

CGS has arranged to have the facility consultant and contractor inspect the centre this month to recommission the chlorination system. Slifka said the department is hoping to have the issue resolved by mid February.

Plant designer Stantec Inc. is refraining from speculation until it has completed a review.

The new treatment centre has introduced a filtration system and an ultraviolet disinfectant process, in addition to the chlorine disinfectant traditionally used in the community to keep bacteria from growing in water when it is transferred into residential tanks.

Walter Orr of Stantec told Nunavut News/North in October, when the plant was being opened, that while water used by the community prior to the new centre was safe, the modern system was to increase the quality of the water and the consistency of cleanliness year-round. By doing this, the $12-million project brought drinking water in the hamlet up to Canadian regulatory standards.

And yet, the water is yellow.

"There is no taste associated with it," said Slifka.

He has also found from his own use that the colour goes away when the water is put through an at-home water filter, such as a Brita.

"The water was always safe, it's just that it has a yellow tinge to it and we expect that it would be clear," he said. "Our water has historically always been clear in Cambridge Bay."

The raw water, prior to filtration, runs clear.

The hamlet office has been reaching out to residents to ensure they are not alarmed by the continued discolouration.

"Upon hearing concerns from a few community residents regarding the colour of the water delivered, municipal works staff, along with GN staff, completed additional testing on the Cambridge Bay potable water supply. The results of these tests showed that the slight discolouration of the water did not affect the quality of the potable water," stated hamlet mayor Jeannie Ehaloak in a post on the community Facebook page.

Hamlet SAO Marla Limousin said the yellow colour has been sporadic and the reason might be as simple as the switch in chlorine brands. "We ordered a different type of chlorine than we have ordered before," she said. "With our other chlorine we had no issue."

The hamlet was waiting on an official report from the health inspector.

"We're going to get the health reports posted to give people peace of mind," said Limousin.

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