Iqaluit council hears options to address water woes
Unnamed Lake and Sylvia Grinnell River presented as permanent solutions for bolstering city’s long-term water supply
City council heard two options this week for supplementing the city’s long-term water supply.
Water could be taken from the Apex River and Unnamed Lake or the Sylvia Grinnell River, according to Walter Orr, an engineer with Stantec Architecture Ltd., a consultant hired by the city.
He gave council an overview of both options, including year-around and summer-only options, during a meeting Thursday night at city hall.
Coun. Kyle Sheppard chaired the meeting and Coun. Romeyn Stevenson was the only other councillor who attended.
The city gets its water from Lake Geraldine, a naturally replenishing reservoir. In recent years, low precipitation levels have depleted Lake Geraldine, forcing the city to pump more water into it from Apex River and Unnamed Lake.
The city has done this every summer since 2018.
Even with the supplementary pumping, the city currently uses 80 per cent of the water in Lake Geraldine by the end of winter, Orr said.
To add to these challenges, water demand might double by 2050, said Orr, meaning the city would need 1.8 billion litres more each year. The Lake Geraldine reservoir can’t supply or store that amount of water.
Unnamed Lake is a headwater lake of the Apex River. It could continue to supply enough additional water to refill the existing reservoir each summer.
The lake could provide water to a population of up to 17,000, but needs a new water intake and about 4.5 kilometres of new pipeline, Orr said.
Taking water from Unnamed Lake means the city could also pump water from the Apex River year round, which would supply water up to an additional 46,000 residents.
This option would require a one-time expenditure of about $5.5 amount to use it for summer operations or $7.6 million to do it year-round.
The Sylvia Grinnell River could also supply enough water throughout the summer, but would require a new reservoir for water storage over the winter. It is a well-known camping and fishing spot for people in Iqaluit.
Iqaluit’s Amaruq Hunters and Trappers Association is strongly opposed to Sylvia Grinnell River being used as a water supply because of its cultural and recreational significance, Orr said.
The river could supply enough water until 2050, but it would only be available in the summer in order to protect fish habitats.
A pipeline to pump water from Sylvia Grinnell to a reservoir would be about 7.5 kilometres, and would cost about $9.1 million.
Earlier this year, the federal government announced $214 million for Iqaluit’s water infrastructure. That money will be used to build a new reservoir, a new supply system and upgrade the city’s water distribution system.
But it will still take time to build the system, with construction not expected to start for at least two years.
Council expects to make a decision on the city’s long-term water supply in August. Then the city will submit an application for its plan to the Nunavut Water Board.
In the meantime, the city will continue to supplement its reservoir from the Apex River.