Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Iqaluit July 12, 2018 - 1:45 pm

Iqaluit’s looming water shortage deserves greater attention: city councillor

“I am just scared that if we don't look after this ... it is going to become a chaos for the community”

Iqaluit city councillor Joanasie Akumalik says these new “islands” have surfaced in Lake Geraldine because of the city’s diminishing water supply. A 2017 study warned that the city could deplete its water supply within five to 10 years. (PHOTO BY COURTNEY EDGAR)
Iqaluit city councillor Joanasie Akumalik says these new “islands” have surfaced in Lake Geraldine because of the city’s diminishing water supply. A 2017 study warned that the city could deplete its water supply within five to 10 years. (PHOTO BY COURTNEY EDGAR)

Updated on July 13 at 9:40 a.m.

Joanasie Akumalik handed out water bottles to his fellow Iqaluit city councillors at this week’s meeting, in place of the typical pitchers and glasses.

If no action plan is created soon about the depleting water levels at the Lake Geraldine supply, Akumalik warned during a member’s statement on Tuesday, July 10, buying bottled water will be the only option in the future―and that scares him.

People in Iqaluit might have to ration water, he said, and only shower once a week, for example.

A 2014 study prepared by EXP Services on the city’s diminishing water supply was neglected by council and the administration for years, according to Akumalik. And in 2017, Andrew Scott, a researcher now with Dalhousie University, warned in a journal article that Iqaluit could run out of freshwater within five to 10 years.

“The council and the administration are at fault for neglecting that report,” Akumalik said, suggesting that the 2014 study might have been overlooked due to a dump fire that occurred at the same time as when the report was brought to their attention.

Akumalik went to the Lake Geraldine water supply last week and took some photos that he gave to the other city council members.

Over time the water has gone down over two metres, said Akumalik. As a result, he said two new “islands” have popped into view above the surface that he and other long-term residents have never seen before.

Akumalik urged city council to deal with it immediately and reminded them that EXP Services, which prepared the 2014 study, recommended that the city begin monitoring the reservoir levels.

“I am just scared that if we don’t look after this ... it is going to become a chaos for the community,” Akumalik said.

Akumalik asked for council to get a full update on the city’s water management plan either by the next committee meeting or council meeting.

Mayor Madeleine Redfern said they will have a discussion on the topic at the next council meeting and that more information would be shared then.

“I know the director of public works has in the last little while provided some updates and we have provided funding to look at Sylvia Grinnell as a secondary water source,” Redfern said.

Afterwards, Redfern said in an interview that the city’s public works department has been providing city council with regular updates on the water supply.

As well, this year council approved spending of $1 million on the water supply issues, including a secondary water survey, from Gas Tax funding. Another $700,000 is going toward dam repairs at Lake Geraldine.

The dwindling water supply is something the city is taking very seriously, Redfern said.

This motion was brought up during the first reading of a bylaw amendment regarding the private hauling of water, spurred in part by requests by the Nunavut Brewing Company Ltd.

Akumalik said, when asked, that this is not related to his not supporting the brewery project. He just wants the water issue to be resolved.

“There used to be a continuous overflow of the water ... but now last week when I went to see it, the water was two metres down and there are new, big islands.”


An earlier version of this story stated that council passed a motion requesting an update on the city’s water management plan. In fact, Coun. Akumalik proposed such a motion, but it was never voted on.

Email this story to a friend... Print this page... Bookmark and Share Comment on this story...

(16) Comments:

#1. Posted by Same Here on July 12, 2018

Rankin has a similar problem. I wonder if anything is being done? Or is ‘crossing our fingers’ the strategy?

#2. Posted by Nothing changes on July 12, 2018

The city has been discussing the water issue since the early 1990’s and still nothing has been resolved. Time to stop talking and start delivering! On another note, stop using the cities reserve of treated water to put out dump fires!

#3. Posted by Invisible strings? on July 12, 2018

After reading this it all seemed like something is being pulled off behind the scene.  As if something is quietly setting the staged. Looking into all the names listed in article, WWF kept coming up.

Bringing the question to mind. Is Iqaluit council, being pulled by invisible strings?

#4. Posted by Eye's and Ear's on July 12, 2018

Hey Akumalik Please look farther then your eye’s with my own eye’s , the City can hook up a long line to get fresh water from the Sylvia Grinnell no problem this will take time to get this hooked up few millions without any fish going to the lake Geraldine screen well,

the people who moved to Iqaluit who tries to fix issues makes things wrong or worst on cost spend more then what this cost ,

, look at our Gabage instead gross me out and getting worst each year after year .

Eye’s and ear’s

#5. Posted by wrong strings... ? on July 12, 2018

I see nothing in this article that indicates WWF.

But I do see a brewery that wants water from some place other than Grinell river…

Maybe you’re looking at the wrong strings?

#6. Posted by pissed off on July 12, 2018

Way to go Joanassie !!!!

Keep them City employees jumping.  This is not an issue to brush away and more meetings will not fix the problem.

Identify an additional source of water and a pipeline to transfer will be required.

How hard can that be to figure out?

#7. Posted by Inuk on July 12, 2018

In the near future we might have to start recycling wastewater. Too bad we’re not doing that now to use for things like taking showers/baths and flushing toilets etc. so that we can use the fresh water we still have for drinking. Our ancestors were very resourceful; we should take after them in a modern way.

#8. Posted by poor form on July 12, 2018

it is always poor form to hand out props to make a point. It is also poor form to blame staff in an open meeting especially if it could lead to a staff performance issue. those issues should be handled in private

#9. Posted by robert lanteigne on July 12, 2018

i must commend the post #2. I figured that last evening they must have spent over 100000 gallons of pure soft water in the dump fire. I wondered the same thing. A pump at the sylvie grinnell and there is plenty of water for all to be satisfied. i myself check the reservoir at the lake many time a month for the pas 30 odd summers and the Councillor is right about his findings as i took pics of he lake beginning of july as well and this time of year, usually there are just about 2 to 3 feet of water to accumulate before it overflows but this year is wow.

#10. Posted by Lord Hee Haw on July 12, 2018

Make the EXP 2014 report public.  Open government and all that.  Let us know what is going on.

Perhaps the answer to the (potential) water shortage will be to drink beer instead.  In parts of Europe (so I’ve been told) beer costs less than water.

“Your Honour, Family Assistance only provides enough money to buy beer.  I had to get drunk because I could not afford to buy water.”

#11. Posted by Uncle Bob on July 13, 2018

Don’t worry, I have personally sent some time back to Madeleine good practical ideas to help with this problem one being the mandatory introduction of dual flush toilets into the town. The second being the plan of a system that recycles bath water into flushing toilets. This would reduce the amount of water used in Iqaluit by almost a third.
Secondary gains would be less water deliveries and less sewerage collections, all of which would be a good savings to Councils stretched funds.
If people in other countries do this why not Iqaluit?.

#12. Posted by hahahaaaa on July 13, 2018

Sylvia Grinell River! hahahaaaaa, kuulialuk.

#13. Posted by NUA on July 13, 2018

well finally there are some ears finally listening. Noah has been in this issue for awhile and no one listened. Also the big issue is lack of real communication and the cost goes with takes two to tangle and a coumminity to untangle.

#14. Posted by Water Woes on July 13, 2018

Good for Joanasie - how could the last Council ignore something so basic?

Think ahead Counsellors!

Do not place citizens in jeparody down the road.

#15. Posted by Putuguk on July 13, 2018

Is not the Road to Nowhere a mile away from a chain of lakes?

Seems like a no brainer to build out access and start drawing from a larger body of water.

By the time you spend all that money on your current water supply, you would have paid for road access to something that might meet the medium term needs of the city.

#16. Posted by When When on July 14, 2018

All the communities in Nunavut have capacity limits.  For some it is water. For others it is build-able land. For yet others it is fuel storage.

Has anyone put together a list of these limiting factors for each community?

Nunavut has a housing crisis.  How soon will we not be able to build more houses in each of our current communities?

We are already shipping many people south now.  We are sending those who are sick, or old, or convicts, and those with special needs, and those who want more than a college education.

When will we need to either build more communities or ship even more people south to live? 

It seems like we are blindly rushing towards the edge of the cliff and no one looking.

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?