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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Iqaluit staff recommend full rebate for water customers due to emergency

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IQALUIT, NUNAVUT — Iqaluit residents could get a break on their water bills as they continue to deal with fuel contamination that’s prevented them from being able to drink their tap water.

Mayor Kenny Bell says in a social media post that he asked city staff for a “request for decision” on a water rebate ahead of this coming Tuesday’s council meeting.

Bell posted the response on Saturday, which calls for a full rebate for the month of October for customers who receive their water via the city’s pipes, as well as those who receive water from trucks.

It says it’s making the recommendation because the city was unable to provide potable water for homes and businesses for an extended period of time, and the flushing of pipes will require people to use additional water.

The document notes disadvantages to the idea, including lost revenue of $965,677 for the month, and that it could create expectations for future interruptions of city services.

Iqaluit’s 8,000 residents haven’t been able to consume tainted tap water for nearly two weeks after fuel was found in samples, and Bell has said the military is bringing in a mobile treatment plant similar to those used in disaster areas such as Haiti.

The document suggests the city submit an application under the Nunavut government’s Municipal Request for Assistance Program to recoup the lost revenue.

Iqaluit residents had reported a fuel smell in their water as early as Oct. 2. On Oct. 12, workers opened a tank at the city’s water treatment facility and smelled fuel. Tests later came back positive for high concentrations of fuel in that tank.

The city has bypassed the contaminated tank but it’s still in the process of flushing the contaminated water from its system and residents need to clean their homes’ water tanks.

Flushing is expected continue into at least next week. It’s still not clear how fuel got into the tank.

In a tweet Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he had spoken with Nunavut PremierJoe Savikataaq and that the military will be deployed to Iqaluit to co-ordinate and deliver clean drinking water.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2021.

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