City of Iqaluit approves $64M plan to build new reservoir

Growing population and recent water shortages make the work necessary

It’s estimated that by 2040 the amount of water storage needed by the City of Iqaluit will be more than double what is stored in Lake Geraldine today. (File Photo)

By Dustin Patar

Iqaluit city councillors have approved plans to build a new reservoir that will address the city’s long-term water needs.

The decision, unanimously approved during a council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 8, follows a recommendation made by the city’s public works and engineering committee in August.

Water shortages have plagued the city for years, leaving Iqaluit on the verge of a potential health emergency, according to the Nunavut government’s chief medical health officer, in 2018.

As a short-term solution, the city has intermittently declared “water emergencies” that has allowed it to refill its current reservoir Lake Geraldine using nearby bodies of water.

But the problem isn’t going away in the long-term. By 2040, it’s estimated that the amount of water storage needed by the City of Iqaluit will be more than double what is stored in Lake Geraldine today.

A new reservoir will change all that.

“There’s been a lot of work to get to this point, including last year, last council and even the council before that,” said Mayor Kenny Bell.

“This is extremely exciting.”

The plan, which comes with an estimated price tag of $64 million, involves both excavation and the construction of a berm in an area beside Lake Geraldine.

Other options presented to the public works and engineering committee included expanding Lake Geraldine and the excavation of additional storage near the lake, without a berm.


An aerial rendering of the long-term water storage option approved by Iqaluit city councillors on Tuesday night. The new reservoir, seen on the map in light blue, will be created through excavation and the construction of a berm, seen in orange, which will increase the storage capacity of the reservoir and decrease the amount of excavation needed. (Image courtesy of the City of Iqaluit)

Although Tuesday night’s decision is a step forward for the city, Amy Elgersma, Iqaluit’s chief administrative officer, advised councillors there are multiple studies that need to be completed next year.

Another obstacle is funding.

While the project chosen by councillors represents the cheapest of the three options, the city will still need to secure outside financial assistance.

“We still have a lot of work ahead of us to find the money to get the work done,” said Bell.

And long-term water storage is only half of the solution — the other half is securing a long-term water source.

The city is currently working on a pre-feasibility study of Unnamed Lake that will determine whether it can be used as a sustainable water source.

The city previously conducted a similar study of the Sylvia Grinnell River.

When the study is completed early next year it will be combined with the finalized water-storage study and together the project will move to its permitting and design phase.

According to documents provided by the city, it is estimated that the construction of the new reservoir will begin during the summer of 2023 and will be completed by the end of 2025.

The next city council meeting, and the first of the year, will be on Jan. 26.

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(8) Comments:

  1. Posted by Tax Payer on

    where is the city going to get the money??? Looks like our property taxes are going up once again very soon,

  2. Posted by Is that you talkin…? on

    Very smart to get that project approved and shovel ready. There will be stimulus spending on infrastructure!

    • Posted by James Tegler on

      I think the pool contain’s about 1 day of Iqaluit’s average use 😉

  3. Posted by Gobble Gobble on

    If you go to the Nunatsiaq article, “Iqaluit seeks new emergency fix for another looming water shortage” from August 2019, you’ll see my comment about how I suggested in 2017 that Iqaluit pump from Unnamed Lake.
    .
    I believe my original comment was on, “Nunavut water reservoirs at risk of running dry, researchers say”, a Nunatsiaq article from May 2017, although comments no longer exist on that article.
    .
    More than 3 years later, and the city is just now working on a “pre-feasibility study”.

  4. Posted by Hot tub on

    The cheapest option but is it the best option? I always find it amazing how expensive projects can be, $64 million for the cheapest option!

    I am sure homeowners will be hit with another tax increase soon.

  5. Posted by Iqaluit resident on

    Please use the water from the river and it flows all year round Inuit always preferred water from a fast flowing river or creek and a reservoir is none flowing water only once a year its filled.
    Please use local knowledge not just engineers in obtaining because Iqaluit needs good quality water and the source is right in town to improve our water source.

    • Posted by Charles on

      It would make more sense to use the river, fresh water year round, might be even cheaper and better water.

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