The Initial Challenge
In mid-October of 2021, residents of the northern community detected a fuel smell and taste coming from the municipal water supply. The fuel detection caused an immediate ‘Do Not Consume’ water quality advisory to be issued in the community.
Within a few days, three members of WSPs water team out of Winnipeg, Manitoba arrived in Iqaluit to assess the situation, identify the problem, and work towards a quick resolution. Working with a team of government and private sector professionals, the team was able to isolate the source area, the North Clearwell underground storage tank. Following the tank’s isolation and an internal/external inspection, it was determined that the tank itself was not the cause of the issue. However, a further inspection of the area determined that light hydrocarbons from a legacy fuel storage tank, located in the adjacent area, had wicked into the water tank through the concrete, which led to the presence of fuel in the North Clearwell tank. The contamination pathway to the water tank was severed less than two weeks after the initial issue was discovered.
Following this, several additional actions were taken: the historic fuel tank was removed, a bypass system was installed, and a new online monitoring system was put in place.
The Challenge that Followed
Just three months after the initial incident, a second incident of trace amounts of fuel in the water system was detected.
WSPs team was called into action once again, this time focusing on a below-ground inspection of the water tanks. During this inspection, it was revealed that there was an inconsistency in the quality of the tank walls that had been constructed. In one location, a tar-like substance had been found to be oozing out of one of the walls. The substance, Waterstop-RX, had not been installed to manufacturer specifications. The substance burst through one of the tank walls and contaminated the water supply.