Repairs to Iqaluit sewage system require “controlled discharge”

Workers are fixing lift station in Lower Base near the beach

A yellow fence surrounds this “controlled sewage discharge” taking place near the Lower Base neighbourhood, near a popular snowmobile trail. That’s one of the places to avoid in the Nunavut capital this weekend. (Photo by Jane George)

By Jane George

The sun is out, it’s Toonik Tyme, and the ice on Frobisher Bay beckons Iqaluit residents to head out of the city.

But there’s a place to you need to avoid if you’re out snowmobiling or walking around by the beach.

The City of Iqaluit has advised residents that due to continued repairs at Lift Station 1, the outfall area behind the lift station, which crosses a snowmobile trail near the Lower Base neighbourhood, has been fenced-off and is considered off-limits for pedestrians, vehicles and snowmobiles.

That’s because of what the city calls a “controlled sewage discharge” from the lift station into the bay, done in order to complete repairs.

“Due to health and safety concerns, residents are being asked to respect the fenced-off area, and to go around the barriers,” says a recent notice from the city, which continues to suffer from numerous issues with its piped water and sewage treatment.

This pool of sewage around houses in the 2700s has been removed, but work is still going on across the street to resolve the problem. (Photo by Jane George)

For instance, the Plateau subdivision has endured low water pressure for weeks, and even today, on Friday, April 12, many were complaining that there was no water and low water pressure there.

Other recent problems include a “sewage issue” in the so-called Legoland area in the 2700s, and a site in Lower Iqaluit that requires a water pipe replacement.

Common problems with sewage service lines and water mains result from ground settlement and ice buildup under the pipe, the city told Nunatsiaq News, issues likely linked to climate change and aging infrastructure.

Since Jan. 1, due to these problems, the city has dealt with eight water excavations and four combined water and sewer snafus.

That’s compared to a total of six water and sewage problems in 2017 and five in 2016, according to figures supplied by the city.

The approximate cost for sewer and water repairs to date in 2019 is $250,000, excluding the costs associated with the Astro Hill repairs.

Earlier this year, the two uppermost floors of the eight-storey building often experienced low water pressure, while the middle floors also experienced problems while many people were using water.

The city started bringing jugs of water for each floor with water problems and offered free passes to the aquatic centre where tenants could shower.

The $250,000 cost also excludes work to thaw frozen water pipes, which left some waterless for days.

As for the sewage spills around town, usually the soiled snow and ice is loaded into trucks and taken to the sewage lagoon, said the city spokesperson, Andrea Spitzer.

There is also a Government of Nunavut requirement for the city to report spills, including sewage, she said.

When home owners note a water or sewage blockage at home, the city says they should first call a plumber to investigate the cause of the issue.

Tenants should call their landlord.

If it’s determined that the issue is not on private property, then residents should call the city’s public works department at 979-5630 during business hours from Monday to Friday, and at 979-5650 after hours.

If there’s no boil water advisory in place, then theoretically it’s safe to drink the water.

Testing of water is done on a daily basis to ensure water quality.

If you have a concern about the water coming out of your taps, you should call the Department of Health. Health officials will assess the issue and notify the city if required, Spitzer said said.

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(1) Comment:

  1. Posted by Habs diver on

    But hey! I’m gonna go for a swim!

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