31 January 2019

Lecture: Drinking Water in Nunavut

Author/Compiled by
Lisbeth Truelstrup Hansen, Technical University of Denmark

Executive Summary

The Nunavut communities retrieve drinking water from surface water sources such as lakes, rivers and glaciers. Some communities experience climate change related challenges in their drinking water supply - extended drought periods and salt water intrusions. Nunavut communities have different levels of drinking water processing, ranging from basic (chlorination) to advanced (sand and micro-filtration, UV and chlorination). Challenges for the functioning of the drinking water treatment systems include power outages, limited local technical resources and long delivery times for supplies. Water distribution is challenged by the harsh climate, requiring heated pies for water services. Only 3 of 25 communities have piped water services while the majority are serviced by trucks to indoor building water tanks. Trucked water in indoor building tanks comes with health concerns. Tanks are placed in rooms of high temperature, and often not maintained as recommended, leading to biological growth in the tanks and chloride depletion. On the other hand, several communities serviced by piped water are challenged by high lead concentrations in the water due to low alkalinity in surface waters.


Factsheet Block Body

Nunavut, the northwestern part of Canada became a territory of Canada in 1999. Nunavut contains 25 remote, fly-in communities with a total of 34,000 inhabitants of which 84% are Inuit. The population lives from traditional practices blended with a wage-based economy. Nunavut communities are affected by documented high infectious GI rates which may be due to poor drinking water and sanitation services.

Learning objectives

Factsheet Block Body

At the end of this lecture students will:

  • Know about the challenges and solutions in supplying drinking water in small isolated communities
  • Have learnt how the quality of drinking water is assessed in Canada


Factsheet Block Body


Library References

Chemical and microbial characteristics of municipal drinking water supply systems in the Canadian Arctic

DALEY, K., HANSEN, L.T., JAMIESON, R.C., HAYWARD, J.L., PIORKOWSKI, G.C., KRKOSEK, W., GAGNON, G.A., CASTLEDEN, H., MACNEIL, K., POLTAROWICZ, J., CORRIVEAU, E., JACKSON, A., LYWOOD, J. and HUANG, Y. (2018): Chemical and microbial characteristics of municipal drinking water supply systems in the Canadian Arctic. Environmental Science and Pollution Research 25(33), 32926–32937. URL [Accessed: 25.01.2019] PDF

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