North

Iqaluit pitches $64M water reservoir to keep taps running

The City of Iqaluit has identified a potential site for an additional water reservoir that it says it will need to build in order to keep up with future demand.

City says it's uncertain how long its current reservoir can sustain Iqaluit's needs

Lake Geraldine, the reservoir for the city’s potable water, is reaching its limits in terms of keeping up with the demand over the winter months. (Jackie McKay/CBC)

The City of Iqaluit has identified a potential site for an additional water reservoir that it says it will need to build in order to keep up with future demands.

In an engineering and public works committee of a whole meeting on Sept. 1, the city presented options for additional water storage to Lake Geraldine — the city's reservoir. 

The city says the lake is reaching its limits in terms of sufficient water availability for demand over the winter. 

"It is uncertain exactly how long Lake Geraldine will sustain the needs of the city," read a statement from the City of Iqaluit's project management team on the reservoir.  

Lake Geraldine can store just over one billion litres of accessible water over the winter months. Winter months are considered Sept. 30 to May 31, when a portion of the city's water is locked up in ice. 

By 2030, the city expects it will need an additional 108.5 million litres of water over the winter months. By 2050, the city says it will need a further 1.2 billion litres of water over the winter. 

Iqaluit's future water projections are based on the average water consumption and population growth. Currently, the average person in Iqaluit uses 400 litres of water a day, according to the city.

The city is recommending a berm and excavated reservoir immediately northeast of Lake Geraldine at the cost of $64 million. The blue area highlights where the reservoir would go. The image was presented at a engineering and public works committee of a whole meeting on Sept. 1. (City of Iqaluit)

The city's current water licence expires in 2026, which was amended in 2019 in order for the city to supplement Lake Geraldine with water from the Apex River. 

But the river is not considered a long term option for the city's water needs because its volume is heavily weather dependent and is not always accessible. 

The city says it needs to find a water source it can extract from for the long term before the current water licence expires.

The city is currently completing a feasibility study of Unnamed Lake as one potential alternative water source. It is also looking at the Sylvia Grinnell River as a long-term option. 

Unnamed Lake is one option the city is considering for a long-term solution to its water shortage, but it doesn't know if the lake will replenish itself. (Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC)

A new reservoir will also be a part of the plan. 

The city is recommending a berm and excavated reservoir immediately northeast of Lake Geraldine at the cost of $64 million. 

The new reservoir would hold about 1.8 billion litres. 

"The additional water storage would be created by using existing topography and impounding water behind a berm to create a small dam," said the city. 

According to a presentation from the city on the potential reservoir, construction would take about three years and would begin in 2023 to finish in time before the water licence expires. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jackie McKay

Reporter

Jackie McKay is a Métis journalist working for CBC in Nunavut. She has worked as a reporter in Thunder Bay, Yellowknife, Whitehorse and Iqaluit. Jackie also worked on CBC Radio One shows including The Current, Metro Morning, after graduating from Ryerson University in 2017. Follow her on Twitter @mckayjacqueline.

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