Businessmen float idea of shipping Greenlandic water to Iqaluit

While Canadian entrepreneurs see potential profit in proposal, city already has its own plan

Mark Albert, right, and Fred Grootarz say they have a longterm solution to Iqaluit’s water issues: shipping water from Greenland. (Photo Jorge Antunes)

By Jorge Antunes

Two Toronto entrepreneurs say they have a solution to Iqaluit’s water supply needs: They’ll ship it in from Greenland.

Fred Grootarz and Mark Albert want to use tankers to transport the water to Iqaluit’s port, where it would be stored year-round in electrically heated tanks.

Albert calls the plan “a perfect fit” for Iqaluit.

Greenland is close by and wants to export its water, he says, and Iqaluit would get dependable access to water year-round.

“The simple fact is that Nunavut is a four-day transit time from our supply,” Albert said.

According to government-owned Greenland Travel, the Greenlandic Ice Sheet contains about seven per cent of all the fresh water reserves on Earth, a fact the region has been trying to exploit since 2001.

Greenland issues licenses to its glacier melt and companies can use them to collect water and export it.

The pair are continuing to knock on doors seeking support for their proposal but so far response appears to be lukewarm.

The proponents

Between them, Grootarz and Albert have more than 100 years of international cargo shipping and logistics experience.

Grootarz was an instructor and continues to lecture for the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association and has run his own shipping agencies.

Albert previously ran a company that shipped general cargo to Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, the U.S., and parts of South Asia. In 2000, he says, his company began shipping desalinated water from California to Israel. That company was eventually sold.

Albert said he and Grootarz reached out to Canada’s federal government to provide funding for their idea, including Toronto-area Liberal MP James Maloney who chairs the Ontario Liberal MPs’ caucus.

He said Maloney expressed interest in the proposal, adding Conservative MPs Melissa Lantsman, Gary Vidal and Bob Zimmer also seemed interested.

Despite numerous requests, none of the four MPs responded to Nunatsiaq News’ requests for interviews to discuss the Albert-Grootarz proposal.

Nunatsiaq News also reached out to Navarana Beveridge, Denmark’s honourary consul for Nunavut, as well as the Nunavut Water Board with requests to discuss the Albert-Grootarz plan.

Neither agreed to speak.

Does Iqaluit fit the plan?

Albert and Grootarz say they have not yet contacted anyone at the Government of Nunavut or the City of Iqaluit to discuss their proposal.

The growing city of Iqaluit has been aware of water-supply issues since 2005. Leaders set up a task force to deal with low water levels in the city’s reservoir, Lake Geraldine, in 2018, and called states of emergencies in 2019 and 2022 when the problem arose again.

In April 2022, the federal government committed $214 million to improve Iqaluit’s water infrastructure, including funding for a second reservoir near Lake Geraldine.

Interest at the federal level waned after this announcement, Albert said.

“My feeling is the Liberals felt they’d done their duty,” he said.

The target set by the city and the federal government for Iqaluit’s new reservoir — to effectively double Iqaluit’s water supply with an additional 1.2 billion litres — is still three years away.

Water licenses for both Apex River and Unnamed Lake will expire in 2025 and the city will have to apply for renewal. However, there is no reason to believe that if the city needed to extend its license that it wouldn’t be able to, says Kent Driscoll, spokesperson for the City of Iqaluit.

Speaking of the Grootarz-Albert proposal, Driscoll said, “They want to put [the water] in tanks that we have to pay for; at a tank farm that we have to pay for; with a specific docking facility, that we would have to pay for.”

He noted the tanks would have to be heated using electricity, which would require diesel generators.

“They want to create a city-sponsored sole-source business that’s going to increase greenhouse gases,” Driscoll said.

That said, Driscoll said if Grootarz and Albert submit a proposal, the city would consider it.

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(24) Comments:

  1. Posted by I live in the Arctic on

    wow just wow more costs for water wow just wow, going even further for wadda, they caught of whiff of that federal money.

    • Posted by SARCASM on

      its like selling oil to the Saudi s

  2. Posted by 😂 on

    Guys must be broke 😂!!!!

  3. Posted by Nunavutmiut on

    Too much of Nunavutmiut tax dollars being spent for Iqaluit constantly, while other communities are rotting.

  4. Posted by Nothing closer on

    I guess these guys think there just isn’t any water available closer than Greenland. Maybe they should pay a visit to Iqaluit and enjoy the Sylvia Grinnell and Burton rivers and the many lakes in the area. Another hairbrained idea from someone who hasn’t had a decent look around Iqaluit.

  5. Posted by Iqalummiuq on

    And who’s going to pay for this? City taxes and water rates are already very expensive.
    We have multiple takes that iqaluit can use. Building the infrastructure will be cheaper than importing water and then having to heat tanks for the majority of the year.
    This rate payer is against this!

  6. Posted by 😂 on

    Are they broke 😂 scam

  7. Posted by MIGA!! on


  8. Posted by Water Woes on

    Tbh, I feel like Iqaluit could benefit greatly by investing in a double-function facility that combined a de-salinator and a nuclear power plant. This would allow for a greater expansion of the city as the population grows, create over 100 jobs, and would address these issues for a long future that involved a reduction in carbon emissions from both the diesel power plant, and multiple ships coming in.

    • Posted by Yeah on

      Another great one! Let’s add more technically challenging infrastructure here, and a nuclear power plant is just the thing we need. A desalination plant when we can access freshwater is a super clever idea. A nuclear plant where we can barely manage our aging water infrastructure and for such a small population is another well thought out plan to meet local needs, especially because we should not try for solar energy or wind energy first. Cannot wait for public funds to be allocated to these deeply researched ideas!

      • Posted by Water Woes 2 on

        The point of a desalination plant would be to conserve the natural lakes and rivers located around the island, in order to preserve the habitat for animals and for the public. The point of the nuclear plant would be to eliminate the need for a diesel plant, so Nunavut would get the opportunity to reduce and almost eliminate most carbon emissions caused by fossil fuels. Nuclear is green.

        The wind idea is neat, but if you do your research, most wind turbines would not be able to operate in the north due to their max. Temp. (Most cannot run at temperatures lower than -35C) this means the majority of the year they would be useless.

        The solar energy is nest as well, but they also have a huge reduction in operation compacity due to temperatures, and could barely operate during the long, dark winters where Iqaluit is known to have a consistently cloudy climate.

        I wrote a very amateur 18-page document about its benefits and drawbacks, complete with a cost/benefit analysis on the government systems so I mean, I think this technically means the GN now owns it as their property. (The idea I mean, which is nice because this kind of infrastructure should be owned by a public body, rather than a third-party company.)

  9. Posted by Ginger ale on

    I guess they are not good businessman if they have to look at outside sources when there are thousands of lakes and rivers on baffin island.

  10. Posted by Devil’s Avocado on

    Back off, this is the municipality’s problem to solve (with a very small $200 million contribution from Canada).

    This is a critical challenge necessary for our political and administrative development.

    If we can’t fix this, we don’t deserve to exist as a municipal corporation.

  11. Posted by EvilGuacamole on

    What a wonderful idea! Water brought from Greenland by ship will not end up in the same ocean so it will really be helpful in limiting sea level rise from Greenland’s melting glaciers. It will also not add unnecessary greenhouse gases in our atmosphere through shipping. What a great concept to build local capacity, resilience and accountability! Also sounds super cost efficient! As a bonus, the water could be stored in empty fuel tanks so we could get a bit more of that hydrocarbon we love so much in our water!

  12. Posted by art thompson on

    Well they look like highly skilled salesman? Right?

  13. Posted by legal eagle on

    So everyones brilliant idea is to do nothing? That’s why we’re in this mess. How about tapping into the Sylvia Grinell river? Tens of millions of gallons of fresh water washed out to sea every hour. TOTAL WASTE. The answer is right there. Bureaucrats (NDP & Liberals) will complicate things more. GN will add to it and the City?….well they’re only good at taxing then squandering it. It’s not just me that sees certain ministers down at the river loading up their blue jugs. Common sense is long over due. Or we can keep arguing and accomplish nothing

    • Posted by Hello logic, meet the HTA on

      Your answer is very logical. And thats why it was rejected by the hunter and trappers association. You can’t reason with stupid. Take 1% of the flow, and it serves the entire town. Their response, “it will affect the fish run”, no it won’t, if the flow is run, you stop pumping, otherwise 1% does nothing compared to the thousands of hooks and nets these fish have to go through.

  14. Posted by DudeTown on

    That is crazy. We have so much fresh water in our territory. Why would we ever do this? Very bad plan.

  15. Posted by Fuck the HTO on

    Or you know, we could just take 1% of the flow from sylvia grinnell ans have enough water for this towns and its population growth for the next 50 years. But not HTO had to be unabashedly ignorant and stubborn.

  16. Posted by mike on

    how much will this cost annually ?

    • Posted by Northerner on

      For you Mike , with family discount , $29.99 a month

  17. Posted by Hunter on

    APRIL fools, has come twice this year.

    I hope no one is taking these guys seriously.

  18. Posted by Too smart I guess on

    I don’t know why but this city always over complicate things when it doesn’t have to be, we have a major river right next to Iqaluit, other rivers close by, lakes close by,
    Other communities have used rivers kilometres away and pipe them in to their reservoirs.

    Common sense just doesn’t seem to exist here, just have to make it more complicated than it has to be,

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