Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Iqaluit July 30, 2018 - 10:29 am

Research points to a solution to Iqaluit’s freshwater shortage

"The problem is end-of-winter and they’re ignoring that"

A freshwater researcher suggests there are a number of deep lakes outside the city of Iqaluit, like the one marked in green here, which have enough capacity to replenish its Lake Geraldine reservoir, indicated by the red marker. (GOOGLE MAPS IMAGE)
A freshwater researcher suggests there are a number of deep lakes outside the city of Iqaluit, like the one marked in green here, which have enough capacity to replenish its Lake Geraldine reservoir, indicated by the red marker. (GOOGLE MAPS IMAGE)

If the City of Iqaluit is serious about dealing with its looming water shortage, its focus should be building a pipeline to replenish its Lake Geraldine reservoir in early 2019.

That’s according to Andrew Scott Medeiros, a Dalhousie University geographer who studies Nunavut’s water systems.

Iqaluit city council is faced with the dilemma of how to respond to low precipitation levels and increased demand for water at its Lake Geraldine watershed and reservoir, to ensure the city has a sufficient drinking water supply over the next year.

City council struck a task force earlier this month to look into options, with the goal of supplementing the reservoir by October this year.

But Medeiros said the research on Iqaluit’s freshwater issues has already been done.

“We told the city in 2015 that they had a looming emergency,” Medeiros said. “The problem is that they’ve ignored conclusive data.”

“It’s not a summer problem; the problem is end-of-winter and they’re ignoring that.”

In a 2017 paper he co-authored, Medeiros and fellow researchers looked at alternative freshwater sources for the city.

“A replenishment program that transfers water into Lake Geraldine during the late winter or early spring would have more of an impact on extending the lifespan of the water supply as replenishment would occur when lake levels are at their lowest,” the 2017 study found.

“Such a replenishment pipeline would require specific design considerations to prevent freezing along with a permanent intake installation allowing for extraction below the layer of lake/river ice.

“There would be considerable increases in expenses related to an all-winter pipeline compared to a seasonal installation, however, the limited and short-term impact that seasonal replenishment has on the Lake Geraldine supply suggests an investment into a long-term solution is required.”

Researchers looked at the viability of drawing freshwater from the Apex River but concluded the river would only have the capacity to provide water over a two-year period.

The Sylvia Grinnell River is another shorter-term source, Medeiros said.

But he pointed to several other deeper lakes just outside the city that have much better capacity to replenish the reservoir, like one northeast of Lake Geraldine (see map).

The challenge now is to develop the cold-weather engineering to pump water to the reservoir, Medeiros said, adding that should be the city’s focus, rather than convening a task force.

Iqaluit’s aging utilidor infrastructure is also a major concern—one that city councillors have also committed to tackle to help prevent freshwater waste.

Medeiros said used water empties the system as waste water, rather than returning to its source for treatment and re-use as in many other cities.

An estimated 40 per cent of water drawn from Lake Geraldine is bled or leaked from the system.

The average per capita daily water use in Canada is about 200 litres per person; in Iqaluit, Medeiros said residents use an average of 400 litres per day.

“But people are not actually using that much,” he said. “The bleed rate is more than what people use.”

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(16) Comments:

#1. Posted by This way not ur way on July 30, 2018

We don’t need no southern acerdemiks telling us whats to do! We can do it the MADE IN NUNAVUT WAY! Ask an elder and this problem will be solved using IQ magik!

#2. Posted by Fiji water on July 30, 2018

Tap into one of the rivers and top up the lake.

#3. Posted by Very thirsty on July 30, 2018

Our mayor and council need to make up their minds or this will become a very important issue in the next municipal elections. They keep saying that we don’t need research and we need action, but then they keep delaying any action and saying we need to do more research. Or worse, they blame locals not conserving enough, or a minuscule number of new small business owners like the brewery or Black Heart Cafe for taking more than their fair share (then blocking the businesses’ request to pay extra for more water).

Now we are back to “consultations” on a proposed by-law to propose proposing a way to possibly propose to fix the water bleeding. 

By the time this council get off their butts to do anything, our city will have no choice but to get its water from the only place that gets things done around here: !

#4. Posted by Paul Murphy on July 30, 2018

Please Government of Nunavut please takeover!  PLEASE!!!

#5. Posted by Voter on July 30, 2018

It s like watching a dog chasing its tail , going around in a circle

#6. Posted by G.Mills on July 30, 2018

“There would be considerable increases in expenses related to an all-winter pipeline compared to a seasonal installation”

But a council that represents 2000 stretched ratepayers should simply dump everything and rush to drop millions on one academic’s “solution”?

No, seems like council are right to strike a task force and do the needed homework, starting with which levels of government are going to pay for it all.

#7. Posted by Trucked Delivery on July 30, 2018

Homeowners were told that water delivery was too expensive and a waste of money.
With the old utility corridor pipes, they waste 40% of our water.
Homeowners with water tanks don’t waste 40% of their water.

#8. Posted by James on July 30, 2018

40% of the water used is bled or leaked from the system?  Well that does seem a tad pertinent!

#9. Posted by Tax Payer on July 30, 2018

Hamlet guy should pay up the property tax arrears and appreciate what the city can do with an extra 10k in its coffers…

#10. Posted by Aqua on July 31, 2018

There are two rivers right by the city, one not too far from the water lake, it does not need a expensive consultant to figure this out, what are you paying your directors and managers at the city that should be working on these?
Work with other communities that had to get water from other resources and they will tell how to do it for free, the ones responsible at the city just need to roll up their sleeves and get to work. This is embarrassing!

#11. Posted by Uncle Bob on July 31, 2018

I’ll start posting up some bottles of water to help while the procrastination continues

#12. Posted by B Scott on July 31, 2018

Could someone please point to the document/study/research that supports the claim that 40% of the water is wasted through bleeds and leaks? I’ve not seen the document, it was not part of the presentation at council on July 24th, and this number keeps getting repeated over and over again.

#13. Posted by Civilian on July 31, 2018

Madeline Redfern our Mayor and some councillors are unfairly rejecting certain business’s from access to water while allowing others access in an unfair manner. She has been steering the ship, and due to her incompetence has not been able to address the water situation among many others, ie: Infrastructure, Dump, garbage strewn across land and city. This is the sad reality we are facing today. The root of the problem stems from her incompetence stretching back years to actually deal with the problem before it has become the problem it is today. Madeline is out to lunch, or should I say out of the territory far too often to properly direct city management to provide a solution before it becomes a problem. Madeline has proven she has failed as a Mayor, as a politician and she should resign. While she may be highly educated she has certainly proven she lacks the capabilities to lead.

#14. Posted by JimmyJames on July 31, 2018

I think #1 should run the territory; we’ll be back under the NWT in no time.

#15. Posted by water user on August 01, 2018

#12: I would imagine that the city is able to monitor the volume of water that leaves the reservoir on a monthly basis, and compare it the volume of water that is paid for and used by customers.

I haven’t seen a source for the number either, that’s just my best guess for how they’d be able to figure it out.

#16. Posted by Dumbfounded on August 03, 2018

At what point will the Mayor and Councillors admit that they have been asleep at the wheel? They have been aware of Iqaluit’s looming water shortage for years and they have accomplished nothing in the way of resolving the situation. Now that the water shortage is evident to the naked eye they are finally talking about it. Just last week they voted down a water and sewage bylaw amendment for the highly anticipated new brewery which has invested a lot of money into Iqaluit, will create jobs, positive economic spin offs, reduce waste via recycled bottles/kegs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions due to the decreased need to fly in beer. This could be Nunavut’s first industry other than arts/crafts, pelts, fisheries and mining and the City is choosing to make it difficult because they require water. Why not shut down or limit water and sewer services for all business’s if they are afraid that Iqaluit may not have enough water? Again, a situation resulting from their very own incompetence.

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