Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Iqaluit July 25, 2018 - 1:30 pm

City of Iqaluit strikes task force to look at freshwater shortages

City officials hope to supplement local reservoir before the winter

SARAH ROGERS
Lake Geraldine is pictured here in early July. Lower precipitation levels and increased demand has depleted water levels at Iqaluit's watershed and reservoir, raising concerns that the city may not have sufficient drinking water to supply the community in the years to come. (FILE PHOTO)
Lake Geraldine is pictured here in early July. Lower precipitation levels and increased demand has depleted water levels at Iqaluit's watershed and reservoir, raising concerns that the city may not have sufficient drinking water to supply the community in the years to come. (FILE PHOTO)

The city of Iqaluit is moving forward with plans to supplement its freshwater source this year to prevent potential water shortages.

Lower than normal precipitation levels and increased demand has depleted water levels at Lake Geraldine watershed and reservoir, raising concerns that the city may not have sufficient drinking water to supply the community over the winter months.

The threat of water shortage is hardly new; city officials said they’ve been aware of depleting levels since 2005.

But this most recent response only came after Councillor Joanasie Akumalik raised the issue at a city council meeting earlier this month.

To that end, the city has assembled a task force on local water management to help inform its efforts, approved by council on Tuesday, July 24.

The group is made up of water experts and representatives from all three levels of government, and is set to meet thrice weekly through the summer.

“The city is taking proactive measures to address the potential shortfall,” said Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern at Tuesday’s meeting.

“The goal is that we have sufficient water in Lake Geraldine by no later than Oct. 1.”

City councillors also moved July 24 to address water loss—an estimated 40 per cent of the water that flows through the city’s pipes is lost through bleeds and breaks in its aging infrastructure—as well as to launch a public awareness and water conservation program.

Councillors passed another motion to direct Iqaluit’s mayor to lobby for more federal funding to mitigate the impacts climate change is having on the city’s access to freshwater.

Lake Geraldine relies on the summer months to fill before the winter freeze. Typically, the reservoir is full by October, but that didn’t happen in 2017.

A new assessment prepared by the city shows that the city has seen declining levels of precipitation. February, April and June 2018 recorded the lowest precipitation levels for those months over an 11-year period.

Currently, there is 1.375 million cubic metres of water in the reservoir, which falls within the range of the city’s annual water usage.

The city hasn’t indicated what alternative sources it will look to in order to supplement the city’s freshwater supply, though previous studies have identified both the Apex River and Sylvia Grinnell River as potential sources.

The discussion Tuesday night led some city councillors to question if and how the city has responded to the half-dozen reports it’s commissioned on the community’s drinking water supply since 2006, noting the absence of a municipal water management plan or framework to guide its long-term goals and plans.

“Maybe the reason we’re having this discussion now is because we didn’t do any mitigation,” said Councillor Kuthula Mathazi at Tuesday night’s meeting.

“Though we don’t want to be alarmist, we need to acknowledge that we have a problem.”

Redfern indicated that a long-term water management plan would flow from the work of the new task force.

The city’s capital budget for 2018 includes $1 million pegged for supplementary water design, another $1 million for demand management and $100,000 for utilidor management.

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(14) Comments:

#1. Posted by thirsty on July 25, 2018

“...40 per cent of the water that flows through the city’s pipes is lost through breaks in its aging infrastructure.”

What? This place is a freaking shanty town. I just read on CBC that the city is telling new businesses that they can’t get more water delivered, but meanwhile, there are literal streams of water flowing into the ditches from broken pipes at any given time? I watched what appeared to be a river flowing from pipes across the street from my house all winter, six months, even on the coldest days. I told the city, and nothing happened.

Why on earth would anyone want to start a business here? Between the ridiculous zoning by-laws and limited water (while the city wastes 40%), it seems like the businesses aren’t welcome.

#2. Posted by Nipisar is Low on July 25, 2018

I would really like to know what Rankin’s plans are with regards to our stressed water supply.

#3. Posted by sled dog on July 25, 2018

it is sure easy to blame climate change for everything, isn’t it.

Councillors passed another motion to direct Iqaluit’s mayor to lobby for more federal funding to mitigate the impacts climate change is having on the city’s access to freshwater.

Does the city have some empirical evidence that this is caused by climate change or perhaps is the aging condition of the mains the cause for the draw and perhaps more users taxing the system.

#4. Posted by drinker on July 25, 2018

If around “40% of the water that flows through the city pipes is lost in its aging infrastructure,”, perhaps it’s time for the city to give up the dream of utilidor.  If you can’t afford to maintain it (and it already spends goodness knows how much in overtime fixing the same places over and over and over again), then it seems like it would be less wasteful to go back to trucked water! Don’t try telling me how expensive trucked water is. Water is more precious than money, and I’m not even sure I believe that trucked water is that much more than constantly paying people to patch up busted utilidor pipes in the dead of winter.

#5. Posted by !!! on July 25, 2018

Let me get this straight: the city has knowingly wasted 40% (that’s practically half!!!) of the water it has treated and delivered (while they acknowledge the water sources are running out) but it’s on residents to stop wasting and businesses to do with less? And don’t forget, all this wasted drinking water is being poured into contaminated soil. This is verging on criminal mismanagement. We need the GN or Federal Government to disband this “city” again and take over with proper management. I’m in disbelief.

#6. Posted by lolz on July 25, 2018

Remember water-less Wednesday? lolz

Gov’t of Nunavut please step in and take this joke of a council out of power.

#7. Posted by Andrew Medeiros on July 25, 2018

Actually, we have conclusively shown in peer-reviewed literature that the apex river is not a viable alternative water source for iqaluit. The only solution is end of winter replenishment.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11356-017-9343-4

#8. Posted by Paul Murphy on July 25, 2018

“The threat of water shortage is hardly new; city officials said they’ve been aware of depleting levels since 2005.”

Now wait for it!

“The city is taking proactive measures to address the potential shortfall,” said Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern at Tuesday’s meeting.”

Madame Mayor “proactive would have been doing something about it 13 years ago.  There are times when you really shouldn’t say anything in life and Madame Mayor this is one of those times.

#9. Posted by Bert Rose on July 26, 2018

Please don’t blame the pipes in the ground. Our home has been on trucked service since 1986 without a single spillage, leakage or problem.

#10. Posted by Drink on July 26, 2018

So #9 Bert Rose, because every thing has been cool for you personally,  nothing needs to change or needs fixing or anything really. Just wait until something happens at your house, and that’s how we’ll know it’s time to improve things. Got it.

#11. Posted by Drink on July 26, 2018

#9 Bert Rose, I am an ass. I should have read your comment more clearly. I actually agree with you.
Even if I didn’t agree, the way I responded was rude and inappropriate. You deserve more respect than that.
I sincerely apologize.

#12. Posted by Uncle Bob on July 27, 2018

I have been on this issue for two years now, and nothing happens.
Climate change will make these issues greater in the future.
I have campaigned to the Mayor for some years now to make it compulsory to install dual flush toilets in new buildings (like the rest of the world) and then go through all old buildings and replace all single flush units.
I also supplied her with a plan on how waste water from baths and showers can be collected in a tank, filtered and then used to flush toilets with. I have never had a response to date from my suggestions.
These two issues could reduce household water usage by at least a quarter. (and reduce water deliveries accordingly)

Perhaps Madelaine could get off facebook a bit and spend more time on the problem at hand

#13. Posted by Observer on July 27, 2018

I know lets open a brewery that requires 6000 litres a day.

#14. Posted by nunathirst on July 27, 2018

Yeah #13, it’s stupid to think that a capital city will have water. Down with new businesses! Boooo!!!

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