Amendment to Iqaluit’s water licence awaits federal approval

With low reservoir levels, city needs to pump water from other source

The City of Iqaluit is looking to get an amendment to its water licence that will allow it pump water from Unnamed Lake into Lake Geraldine to address a water shortage. (File photo)

By David Lochead

An amendment that would allow the City of Iqaluit to pump more water into its reservoir has been sent to the federal minister of northern affairs for approval.

“We expect to hear an answer any day,” said Amy Elgersma, Iqaluit’s chief administrative officer, who made the announcement during Tuesday’s city council meeting.

Earlier this month, the city declared a state of emergency over low water levels in its reservoir, Lake Geraldine.

The city is looking for an amendment to its water licence that would allow it to pump water from Unnamed Lake into the Apex River and then into Lake Geraldine.

On Aug. 19, the Government of Nunavut also called a state of emergency over Iqaluit’s water reservoir shortage. That was done to speed up the approval process for the amendment, which first had to go through the territory’s water regulator, the Nunavut Water Board.

Elgersma said the water board told the city on Monday it is recommending Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal approve the amendment.

The hope is to start pumping water from Unnamed Lake to Lake Geraldine by Sept. 1.

The city has made improvements to the road to Unnamed Lake and borrowed the hoses necessary for water pumping from the GN, Elgersma told council.

Coun. Simon Nattaq asked whether the large amount of rain throughout August has had an impact on Lake Geraldine’s water levels.

Elgersma said that before the recent stretch of rain, the water level in the reservoir was going down whenever the city pumped water out. The reservoir’s water level has now levelled out, even during pumping. However, she said, the increase in rain is not enough to replenish the amount of water the city requires to get through winter.

Iqaluit has gone through water shortages before, most recently in 2019. With that in mind, deputy Mayor Solomon Awa said the city should be looking elsewhere to get its water in the future.

“It’s not only this year,” Awa said, in Inuktitut through an interpreter, of water shortages at Lake Geraldine. “We need to be prepared for a number of years.”

In fact, there is work being done to address the city’s water supply in the long term.

Earlier this year, the federal government announced $214 million to improve Iqaluit’s water infrastructure, including money for a new reservoir.

Council heard options in June for how it could go about supplementing the city’s water supply, and was expected to make a decision on that this month.

 

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