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City of Iqaluit declares 2nd water emergency in 2 years

There is less water in Lake Geraldine now than there was when the city declared its first water emergency in 2018. To make matters worse, the Apex River, meant to supplement the reservoir, is also at a historic low.

The city's reservoir is at an all time low and so is the river that refills it

Matthew Hamp, director of engineering and public works for the city, says the city will pump water from Unnamed Lake into the Apex River and then into Lake Geraldine. (Travis Burke/CBC)

The city of Iqaluit has declared a water emergency, for the second time in two years.

Lake Geraldine— the reservoir for the city's potable water— is at a "historic low." 

There is less water in Lake Geraldine now than there was when the city declared a water emergency in 2018. 

The City of Iqaluit's potable water supply has not been recharging due to a lack of precipitation, population growth and leaky infrastructure, according to the city.

To make matters worse, the Apex River, meant to supplement the reservoir, is also at a historic low and will not be able to refill Lake Geraldine. 

The Apex River is meant to be used to supplement the reservoir for the next seven years until the city can find a long-term solution to its water problem. 

The Apex River is completely dry in some sections. (Travis Burke/CBC)

Now, the city will get water from Unnamed Lake to fill the reservoir. It has just gotten approval from the minister of community and government services.

"We need to supplement water, this is the closest source to do that," said Matthew Hamp, director of engineering and public works for the city.

Unnamed Lake is three kilometres from the pumping station at the Apex River and is a source of water the city has been considering as a long-term solution to its water shortage. But city officials aren't sure what impact more regular draws would have on the lake.

"As a one-time use we don't expect there to be any long-term impacts [on Unnamed Lake]," said Hamp. 

"If the entire amount we take out isn't recharged in one year, that will give us a good idea of what flows in and out of that lake are." 

There is less water in Lake Geraldine now than there was when the city declared its first water emergency in 2018. (Jackie McKay/CBC)

If there is no rain to help fill up the reservoir before the end of October, the city will need 700 million litres of water to get through the winter. The original application was for 500-million litres. 

Last summer, the city pumped 194 million litres of water from the Apex River over 33 days, from Aug. 9 to Sept. 20. 

The city will start pumping water from Unnamed Lake and the Apex River on Aug. 15. 

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