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Replace drinking water in tanks, NWT advises South Slave evacuees

A file photo of running tap water. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

The NWT’s chief environmental health officer says residents of Hay River, the Kátł’odeeche First Nation and Fort Smith should drain water holding tanks when they return.

In an advisory on Thursday, the territory said residents and businesses should drain tanks that contain drinking water and request a refill of fresh, treated water.

They should then flush all water lines with fresh water for 15 minutes, the advisory stated, adding that the use of filters, reverse osmosis or boiling water would not be acceptable alternatives to replacing the water.

The Department of Health and Social Services said the advisory was issued as a precaution as water has now been standing in those holding tanks for more than four weeks.

The department said no illnesses have been reported related to drinking water in the communities, routine testing of water treatment plants has continued, and there is no concern regarding treated water.



Residents from Fort Smith were ordered to head to Hay River on August 12 as a nearby wildfire was threatening road access.

Everyone in Hay River and the Kátł’odeeche First Nation was then told to evacuate down south the following the day, the second time those communities had to flee due to wildfire threats this summer.

The Town of Hay River has started welcoming back essential workers and says the general public may be able to return as soon as Sunday, depending on risk to the community. The Kátł’odeeche First Nation said essential workers were allowed to return from Wednesday.

In Fort Smith, where essential workers are also returning, residents may be allowed to head home as soon as Monday.

Registration for re-entry flights to the communities closes on Thursday at 8pm.