Gjoa Haven plans for desalination plant

Hamlet’s current water source is too small



IQALUIT — Gjoa Haven officials say a proposed $3-million desalination plant in their community will give the provide more water for less money.

Designs for the plant are still being drawn up, but the plan is to pipe sea-water from the ocean, remove the salt, and send the resulting pure water to residents for drinking, cooking and bathing.

Hamlet councillor George W. Porter said the lake where the hamlet’s water now originates is too small and can’t keep up with the fast-growing 1,100-person community.

“The plant will make a big difference and in the long run it’ll be a lot cheaper for us because it’s closer.”

– George W. Porter,

Gjoa Haven hamlet councillor

“The plant will make a big difference, and in the long run it’ll be a lot cheaper for us because it’s closer,” Porter said.

“The closest water source is three kilometres from here. We have a road up there, but in the long run we feel it’s going to cost us too much for keeping the road open in winter-time and the wear on the truck tires back and forth. It’s a little too far.”

The lake is also too shallow in places, and sometimes it takes on an odd hue.

“Our little lake is kind of getting greenish in colour, (due to) drainage from all the trucks on the roads and the ski-doos going back and forth. It’s too close to town,” Porter said.

Gjoa Haven residents also suffered an infestation of bloodworms in their drinking water. While not dangerous to human health, the worms were visible to the naked eye.

But Porter said their water is now clean. About a year ago a fine mesh screen was installed on the hamlet’s water-intake pipe to filter out the bugs.

Rosemary Keenainak, an assistant deputy minister in the Department of Community Affairs and Transportation, said consultants went to the community to explore options for creating a new drinking-water source.

The hamlet council chose the desalination plant from a list of 13 options that the consultants presented them with. The plant will cost about $3 million over two years. Most of the money will come from the territorial government.

“This is being proposed for next years’ budget, so the funding has to be approved by the legislative assembly,” Keenainak said.

“We’re going to be presenting it as a departmental plan for approval. If approval goes ahead, we’re looking at beginning construction next year.”

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