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Arviat water worries

Jillian Dickens
Northern News Services

Arviat (Dec 07/05) - There's a lot of bitterness in Arviat these days and its all due to the water quality.

Now MLA David Alagalak is demanding the territorial government come up with a plan to solve his community's drinking water problems.

At the legislature last week, Alagalak raised the issue with Community and Government Services Minister Levinia Brown.

"Starting from the 1960s, we have had poor quality water in Arviat," he said in the house on Nov. 18.

Outside of the house, Alagalak described Arviat's water as tasting bitter at the end of winter and said there are reports that it discolours clothing in the wash.

"A lot of people, including the elders don't drink the water," he added.

Brown told Alagalak that a $25,000 study of Arviat's water supply was completed in October, and agreed to provide the MLA with a copy of the results.

Right before freeze-up, Arviat's two water reservoirs are filled using Wolf Creek water, which is seven miles from the community.

By late winter, one of the reservoirs is empty and the other is close to it.

"When it gets down to about 30 per cent full, you can't drink it any more," said Alagalak.

Brown said Arviat's landscape affects water quality.

"I'm not an expert in water quality, but I do get briefed. We are aware that Arviat is on the flatlands and the streams, creeks, or rivers are very shallow. So the water gets stagnant because there's no flow going through," said Brown.

She said in the winter bacteria are trapped under the ice, die and sink to the bottom, affecting the water.

When the same water sits in the reservoir, the same effects could occur, said Alagalak.

The hamlet foreman, James Tagalik, said Wolf Creek is shallow, as are the lakes and one river that are close to the community.

"There are other lakes available that could be used for water, but they are 15-20 km away," he said.

Alagalak wants assurances from the territorial government that something will be done.

"There has been no assurance that there will be construction of pipes and roads," said Alagalak.

"Soon I will be asking more questions and requesting a specific plan as to what lake will be chosen and how it will be accessed by the community."

The municipal government is responsible for the delivery of water and the territorial government is responsible for water quality and infrastructure.