Five rivers under study for Iqaluit hydro dam

Apex River, Grinnell not being considered



The Qulliq Energy Corp.’s plans for a hydroelectric dam near Iqaluit will move forward this summer with field studies aimed at gathering more detailed information from five potential sites.

Those studies will gauge the flow of water in the five rivers, all within 100 kilometres of Iqaluit, as well as evaluate the environmental impact of a dam.

That includes the amount of fish and surrounding wildlife, vegetation, and any archaeological sites in the area.

Fish studies will be conducted by electrofishing — that is, catching fish with nets that give off an electrical charge, which temporarily paralyse the fish so they can be counted, but causes no permanent harm.

Neither the Sylvia Grinnell River or Apex River are being considered — the first is too wide, and the second doesn’t have enough water. But water flow studies will still be conducted at both sites this summer.

That’s because there’s plenty of historical information available about water flow in both rivers, which could be useful in determining if there’s an unusual amount of water gushing through all rivers in the area this summer.

If a hydroelectric dam is built, it could produce between four and 30 megawatts of electricity, depending on the site.

Iqaluit now uses about nine megawatts during peak periods, and with a booming population, that number is expected to grow to 25 megawatts by 2035.

Right now, that energy is produced by burning 12 million litres of fuel in Iqaluit each year. That’s about 170 drums burned per day — and a big slice of the 40 million litres consumed across the entire territory to generate electricity.

“The bulk of energy is spent here in Iqaluit,” said Jamie Flaherty, vice president of QEC, during a presentation to Iqaluit’s council earlier this month.

Replacing some of that fuel with hydro power would help the environment, and if fuel costs continue to rise, create long-term cost savings, Flaherty said.

The hydroelectric project could be hooked up to another community other than Iqaluit. If a site is chosen to the north, it could be linked up to Pangnirtung. If a site is chosen to the south, it could be hooked up to Kimmirut.

“The north side of Iqaluit has a lot of potential, but it’s also very pricey because of the distance,” Flaherty said.

QEC has set aside $400,000 this fiscal year for hydro studies.

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