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Where does the water in Greenland come from?

Royal Greenland is Greenland’s largest consumer of water. Water production and water quality thus play a key role for our company.

In Greenland, tap water is usually produced by melt water which is either collected from freshwater lakes outside towns or directly from rivers.

A small proportion of the tap water comes from the so called “reversed osmosis plant” where seawater is microfiltered with the help of membranes to desalinise the water. Bacteria, vira, ions and other unwanted substances in the seawater is filtered from the water. Because this is a relative expensive and time-consuming process it is only used to a limited extent. Similarly, in the northern part of Greenland, a small proportion of tap water is produced by melting ice from glaciers.

Since freshwater primarily comes from meltwater the yearly melting-off and rainfall by the individual town or settlement has a great impact. To keep a continuous water supply, the yearly flow to the freshwater lakes must be at least at the same level as the consumption. In some towns and settlements, the supply is vulnerable because the consumption is either the same or higher than the inflow.  During winter, it can be a challenge to ensure a stable water supply, since it is very cold many places, and freshwater lakes and rivers can freeze completely or partly.

To ensure that the tap water’s quality stays on a sufficiently high level, the water gets treated in different ways, for instance with UV-light and chlorine. Furthermore, around the freshwater lakes, a barrier has been set. Inside the barrier, all activities that can pollute the tap water are banned, for instance driving a snowmobile, walking the dog etc. In case of pollution or a sudden shortage of water it is not possible to collect water from any of the neighbouring freshwater lakes if a barrier has not been placed by those as well. However, in many places, more lakes are available by connecting them via pipes and pumps so that extra drinking water can be collected.

In many towns and settlements, Royal Greenland’s factory is the main consumer of water. There are places where the factory’s consumption surpasses other consumers’ consumption multiple times. As a food producer, Royal Greenland has a very strong interest in a stable supply of clean water. Failure to supply abundant water can affect factory production. Clean water is crucial when cleaning fish, maturing, boiling and glazing prawns, boiling crabs, etc. Also, when cleaning it is important to have clean water to ensure that the hygiene and food safety is sufficient.

Royal Greenland strives to continuously focus on water consumption, as even a small water saving from the local factory can have a major impact on the water supply to the rest of the residents and businesses in the individual towns and settlements. However, it is always ensured that water savings do not affect product quality.

At selected locations, Royal Greenland plans to replace tap water with clean, purified seawater for production and cleaning. This will help take the pressure off the rest of the drinking water supply. The use of purified seawater requires special approval, so Royal Greenland is in ongoing dialogue with the authorities about this initiative - also to ensure that product quality will remain at the same high level.

See also

Next news: MSC Re-Certification of the West Greenland cold-water prawn fishery