IQALUIT, Nunavut - Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh wants the Liberal government to pay the cost of fixing Iqaluit's ongoing water emergency.
The 8,000 people who live in Nunavut's capital haven't been able to drink their tap water since Oct. 12 when it was found to contain fuel.
Singh told a news conference in Iqaluit today that territorial and municipal governments estimate it will take $180 million to permanently fix the problem.
Singh says Iqaluit's water infrastructure needs a permanent upgrade to make sure a similar emergency doesn't happen again.
Weeks ago, the city and territory asked the Liberal govt for $180 million to fix the water supply crisis.— Jagmeet Singh (@theJagmeetSingh) November 16, 2021
Today, I am urging PM Trudeau to quickly provide funding for ppl in Iqaluit to have safe drinking water and resources to meet the challenges created by the climate crisis.
The city has said an underground tank from 1962 is likely to have been the source of the fuel that entered the city's water.
Iqaluit residents have been able to get bottled water at sites around the city or treated water being pumped from a nearby river by members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
While in Iqaluit, Singh and Nunavut NDP member of Parliament Lori Idlout planned to meet with city officials and help hand out water to residents.
"If there was a water crisis of this nature in any other major city in Canada ... what would the federal government do? They would act immediately to fix the problem," Singh said.
The city said the fuel accumulated over time in a raw water tank at its treatment plant and was discovered in a separate tank.
Winnipeg engineers contracted by the city told a council meeting Monday night that the underground site is being cleaned up.
The engineers said water tests have come back clean since Oct. 24, but the Nunavut government still needs to do its own testing before a do-not-consume order is lifted.
Charles Goss, one of the engineers, said the spill could have happened weeks or years ago and residents would have smelled fuel in the water even at very small concentrations.
"There isn't a long history of people drinking contaminated water," he said.
The city has said residents started reporting the smell of fuel in tap water as early as Oct. 2.
City councillors also voted to spend $100,000 on an indoor bypass tank to replace the contaminated one.