City of Iqaluit approves $64M plan to build new reservoir
Growing population and recent water shortages make the work necessary
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.
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.