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Arviat may face water shortage

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Monday, February 14, 2011

ARVIAT - A leak in one of its reservoir cells could have the hamlet of Arviat facing a water shortage in the coming months.

The water is leaking from cell one, which has a draw-down capacity of 87 million litres.

Cell two has a capacity of 52 million litres, which could provide the hamlet with water for about 100 days.

Arviat is using water from cell number one now before it all leaks out.

Community and Government Services (C&GS) assistant deputy minister Darren Flynn said when the leak was first reported this past December, it was very minor.

He said C&GS continued to monitor the cell and, by January, it was losing up to 1.5 inches of water a day.

Under current conditions, the hamlet would be out of water by May.

Mayor Bob Leonard said the leak could have resulted from work done on a plastic liner this past summer.

He said it's possible Arviat has enough water to get by until refilling begins around June, but the hamlet doesn't want to takea chance on that.

"C&GS are going to bring in the necessary equipment to treat the water and pump it right into the trucks at Landing Lake," said Leonard.

"If a new road is built across the ice, it would be about three kilometres from town, but, the way the road presently runs across the land, it's about seven kilometres."

Some residents have concerns the water from Landing Lake is high in salt content.

Leonard said if the tests sent for analysis look good, water will be trucked from Landing Lake and cell two will be kept in reserve.

He said if everything goes according to plan, Arviat should be able to access water from Landing Lake by mid-February.

"Council looked at conservation, but, because Arviat is on trucked water, people are very, very good at conserving water now.

"The water used per person in Arviat is one of the lowest in Nunavut, which puts it among the lowest in Canada.

"To solve the problem through conservation, we'd have to reduce our consumption by about 28 per cent and, with how little water our residents use now, that would be almost impossible."

Leonard said should Landing Lake not work out, testing has begun at another lake a little farther out.

He said that lake contains what people in Arviat refer to as sweet water.

"Should neither lake work out, we'd be looking at melting ice or something of that nature and that would get really complicated for us.

"As long as one of the lakes pan out, things should be fine until the damaged cell can be repaired this spring."

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