Two weeks ago flash flooding prompted the Nunavut hamlet of Pangnirtung, on Baffin Island, to declare a state of local emergency. High winds and heavy rains damaged two bridges over the Duvall River, including a new bridge that was supposed to open this summer. With both bridges now closed, residents have no access to municipal services such as the water reservoir, sewage treatment plant, and garbage dump.

In fact, residents in the hamlet of 1,325 are being forced to dump raw sewage into the river, which flows into the pristine waters of the Pangnirtung Fiord. Sewage is being dumped directly into the river about 50 metres from where it flows into the fiord, which is the site of a productive local fishery for both char and beluga whales.

Pangnirtung’s new bridge was put into commission when the existing one collapsed. Shortly thereafter the decision was made not to use the new bridge due to a major earth movement under the new bridge.So much water has been blasting along the river that it carved a 10-metre channel through the permafrost, right down to bedrock.

Officials parked a water truck on the far side of one bridge before it became impassable. That truck is now pumping water through a hose across the bridge to another truck, which then ferries the water to residents.The hamlet is asking residents to continue conserving water, which they’ve been doing since the flooding took place, until further notice.

Since the rains, large cracks and sinkholes have been discovered around the riverbank. Emergency workers are toiling around the clock to repair the damage. The Nunavut government has announced just over $500,000 in aid for Pangnirtung.