Population growth will strain sewers, report says

Ottawa consulting firm identifies problem areas



Future growth in Iqaluit might put a big strain on some of the city’s sewers, according to a water and sewage study released by city council last week.

The report, by Trow Consulting Engineers Ltd. of Ottawa, says certain sections of the sewage system would have difficulty handling the extra sewage flow that would come from an increase in population.

With the population growing at such a fast pace — and expected to reach 11,300 people by 2021 — Iqaluit city council asked the firm to determine if Iqaluit’s water and sewage system could handle an increased demand on its services.

Engineers examined Iqaluit’s sewers, pumping stations and forcemains, many of which were installed in the 1960s.

In Iqaluit, sewers, forcemains and pumping stations collect most of the city’s sewage, while sewage trucks collect a third of all sewage.

The engineers determined that a large part of the system will be able to meet the current needs and even handle more sewage flow if Iqaluit grows.

But, they noted, there are some key sewers that might not be able to withstand any expansion. This means that without major upgrades, some new homes and buildings may not be able to connect to the sewage system.

Trow engineers identified several sections of sewer that might have difficulty taking on extra sewage flow.

“This is one of the most useful things that came out of this study,” said Matthew Hough, the City of Iqaluit’s director of engineering.

“What this shows is what pipes we need to either improve in quality or increase in capacity to handle current population and growth.”

One section that will need upgrading is the main trunk running from the dumping station, near the sewage lagoon. Because all sewage in the city runs through it, any extension to the overall sewage system would put extra pressure on this section. In fact, this sewer can only handle a population increase of 500 people.

Another problem section is the sewer behind Northmart. It can’t handle the 400 litres per person per day that the city would like it to handle.

Trow engineers suggest the city take a hard look at the ability of its sewage system to meet the demands. “The ability of the sewage system to support growth must be reviewed when the locations of future development have been confirmed,” the report says.

Hough said the engineering department is keen on improving these two sections because it doesn’t want to see new development in the city hampered.

The report, on top of looking at the system’s ability to handle growth, studied the condition of the sewers themselves.

Engineers discovered that, for the most part, the sewers are made of asbestos cement piping, a type of pipe that fails miserably if it freezes. While the pipes are now performing adequately, the engineers suggest the pipes be replaced.

A section of sewer that serves the Brown Row housing units is a cause for concern because it’s made of corrugated steel. “This piping should be considered for replacement as it is currently leaking in various locations and is generally in poor condition,” the report says.

Hough said the city’s engineering department recognizes the need to improve the sewage system. When the city was putting together its 2002 capital budget, the engineering department identified key sewage upgrades.

The engineering department also commissioned a study of Iqaluit’s sewage treatment plant — which was supposed to be operating two years ago — to see how much money it will cost to get the plant running. That report is expected in coming months.

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