‘Multiple stages of disinfection’ core of Iqaluit water plant improvements

City has not yet tallied total cost to upgrade, repair plant

Peter Martel, Iqaluit’s water treatment plant operator, works with the plant’s s::can water monitoring system. Iqaluit is the first city in North America to use s::can, which provides staff with real-time information on the city’s water quality. (Photo by Jeff Pelletier)

By Meral Jamal

Updated at 2:45 p.m. ET.

The City of Iqaluit hasn’t yet tallied the cost to clean up and upgrade its water treatment plant after fuel contamination knocked it offline more than a year ago, but officials now boast the plant has one of the most rigorous water testing regimes in North America.

The plant came back online in April after an 18-month cleanup process.

Its operator Peter Martel hosted a guided tour of the facility on May 18.

“The water here — it goes through multiple stages of disinfection at the plant, as compared to in Ontario,” he said.

Martel studied and previously worked in the south.

City of Iqaluit spokesperson Kent Driscoll describes updates to the city’s water treatment plant during a tour on May 18. (Photo by Jeff Pelletier)

“[Ontario] doesn’t have the extra security, an extra backup.”

The water now goes through two kinds of filters — granulated sand and activated carbon. The activated carbon filter has been added to help remove a variety of organic impurities, including hydrocarbons, from water.

The plant’s water storage tanks are now lined with a special liner which will prevent any impurities that manage to leech through their concrete walls from getting into the water.

But what’s particularly unique about Iqaluit’s water treatment plant is that it’s the first of its kind in North America to use a realtime water-quality monitoring system.

Installed in October 2021, the s::can system uses ultraviolet light to detect contaminants such as hydrocarbons in the water. It also monitors the water for more than 100 kinds of impurities.

The city originally rented the s::can system, but went through with a purchase of two systems at a cost of $181,231.96 in December 2021.

“When [the s::can monitoring system] was first put in, the Government of Nunavut was wondering about new technology. And now they’re so in love with it, they’re looking at it for other water plants in the territory,” said city spokesperson Kent Driscoll.

One s::can is set up to monitor untreated water on its way into the plant and another monitors the treated water on its way out.

City officials confirmed in October 2021 its treated water was contaminated after people in the city had been complaining for several days they could smell and taste fuel in the water. People in Iqaluit were ordered to not consume their water until officials deemed it safe.

That happened in December 2021 but the problem arose again in January 2022.

Iqaluit’s water plant went offline and officials used a bypass system to treat the water while experts investigated and cleaned up the plant.

Experts eventually determined the two contaminations came from two separate sources.

The city allocated $2.9 million last year to complete a number of upgrades to the plant, including the cleaning and replacement of tanks, a new boiler and heat exchanger, the cleaning and inspection of the city’s reservoir and the replacement of filters, among other jobs.

This work is mostly complete except for one project carried over to this year. The city’s department of public works has not determined the final costs.

The City of Iqaluit is following up on these upgrades with a larger $200-million investment to expand and repair its water system and build a new reservoir.

The next steps involve a community consultation process, which city spokesperson Kent Driscoll said will likely take place next month.

Correction: This story has been updated to properly detail what the s::can system does and doesn’t monitor.

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(4) Comments:

  1. Posted by jim on

    s::scan sounds a bit like s::scam 😀

    Let’s just hope it works for a long time 😉

  2. Posted by George on

    What project is “carried over to this year”? And what does the s::can system not monitor?

  3. Posted by Mass Formation on

    What chemicals and the amounts are added to the water?

    • Posted by Scotty on

      Chlorine and ultraviolet disinfection. The industry best practices for water treatment.

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