What will Iqaluit’s revamped water system look like? City polls residents on key questions

Issues like water pipe routes, which neighbours will convert to piped water, size of reservoir all remain undecided

City of Iqaluit spokesperson Kent Driscoll, left, shows MLAs Janet Pitsiulaaq Brewster and Adam Arreak Lighstone a map of the pipes used to provide residents with water, some dating back to the 1970s. (Photo by Meral Jamal)

By Meral Jamal

Iqaluit’s new water reservoir will be located next to its current one, Lake Geraldine. But how big it will be is still up in the air.

That question was one of several presented to residents Wednesday at the first of two public consultation sessions to look at how the city plans to spend more than $200 million in federal funding to upgrade its water infrastructure.

A few dozen people filtered in and out of Abe Okpik Hall, including MLAs Janet Pitsiulaaq Brewster and Adam Arreak Lightstone, over the course of the two-hour event. The second session is planned for Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Elders Qammaq.

A map shows the proposed new lake the City of Iqaluit is hoping to build as a second reservoir next to Lake Geraldine, which is the main supply of water for residents currently. The reservoir will be connected to Unnamed Lake via above or underground pipes. (Photo by Meral Jamal)

Under its plan, the city will supplement its freshwater supply from Unnamed Lake.

Whether all the new pipelines will be above or below ground, how much existing infrastructure will be replaced, the pipelines’ routes and if parts of the city currently receiving trucked water will be physically connected to the water system through a water main, are part of this week’s consultation.

“Our consultants heard [Wednesday] night from several residents on trucked water who expressed their preference to stay on trucked water,” said city spokesperson Kent Driscoll in an email.

“We are listening.”

Mayor Solomon Awa said the goal of the public consultation is to give residents the chance to come out and say what’s on their mind when it comes to the city’s water supply.

Big changes need to happen, considering Iqaluit’s growing population.

“Right now, we’re a population of over 8,000 residents,” Awa told Nunatsiaq News. “Within 50 years, maybe we’ll have 20,000 residents.”

He said trail users can also give their thoughts on the proposed water pipeline routes, adding not many people tend to travel close to Lake Geraldine.

“The challenge is to take things in the right direction,” Awa said.

“We’re getting some information and feedback from the public so we can better prepare for the construction.”

The project’s timeline is also undecided, although the city is hoping it is complete within the next five years. When construction can start for the first component — reservoir and water intake — will depend on how quickly the city can get its licences and permits in place.

“We are hoping to submit our licence application to Nunavut Water Board in June 2024,” Driscoll said, adding processing the application is expected to take about one year from the time of submission.

“At this moment, my best guess for tendering the construction work for reservoir and intake would be July 2025.”

Driscoll said the management consultant for this project — Colliers — has been on board since the end of 2022. A design consultant is expected to be hired next month.

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(9) Comments:

  1. Posted by Jim on

    What % of the Sylvia Grinnel’s water would supply Iqaluit’s needs?

    • Posted by Jim on

      I have heard that the volume of water that flows down the St. Lawrence River into the Atlantic is equal to ALL the water used by the contiguous United States.

  2. Posted by Watch on

    I’m on trucked water and have absolutely no desire to switch to piped. Constant shut-offs, boil water advisories, random brown water, road being ripped up repairs for days and weeks on end in front of houses. No thanks. Why would I want to switch?

    • Posted by Jim on

      I think trucked water is more expensive to provide hence the taxes are higher. The giant trucks running around suburban streets are a hazard to kids playing. The noise from the trucks is a minor disruption. On trucked service the amount of water is limited and during blizzards or holidays a lot of families run short of water…. Taime.

      • Posted by Watch on

        Respectfully, I wonder what the cost of all the emergency fixes on the pipes and tearing up the road in the dead of winter costs. There are parts of town where the issue never seems to be resolved. The noise from the trucks is so minor it’s barely worth mentioning, especially compared to the disruption of the noise of jackhammers and backhoes, and the frequent water shut-off a. I’d rather be mindful and manage what’s in my tank rather than have to manage the garbage water service they’ve had to deal with on plateau and lower base areas, not to mention the nasty, cloudy and brown water that suddenly starts following from the taps, leaving folks to wonder how long it was like that before anyone noticed.

        • Posted by Jim on

          Good points but, I think the hazards of big trucks in suburban areas and the financial costs are inarguable. I’m in favour of the utilidor being above ground. Having brown water from rust is something that happens everywhere (mind you not as commonly as there in Iqaluit.) I could talk about the cost of having your own pumping system to maintain or the problems that can be associated with having your own sewage tank. There’s a reason larger towns have municipal(piped) systems 😉

          • Posted by Watch on

            At least those problems are mine to manage and I’m not relying on the city to manage them. More than one acquaintance on utilidor has had to deal with sewage backup from the city, and the city absolutely refuses to accept responsibility, even though it is painfully obvious that is the problem. If there’s sewer backup on trucked housing, it is much easier to see where the problem lies.
            Keep the whole rest of the town on utilidor, I don’t care. But don’t try to sell me on switching my home from the current, just fine water service I have. If I have to switch, so be it, but don’t try to tell me it will be better for my household. This is not a big city, like Toronto or Ottawa, where you can use water and not give two thoughts about the quality or whether it will come out of the faucet when you turn on the tap. Here, that isn’t the case, so I’d rather continue to manage my own water and sewage, thanks.

      • Posted by Allthe on

        As I type this people on plateau are posting about suddenly not having water. Just what you want to come home to on a Friday after work. And then there will certainly be a boil water advisory for them as a result. Trucked water for me. Worth it .

  3. Posted by John K on

    Iqaluit. Where being connected to public services is something best avoided.

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