Iqaluit has undertaken a project to divert water from the Apex River to its water supply in Lake Geraldine. This is an emergency measure after low water levels at Lake Geraldine raised alarm as to whether the city would have a secure supply through winter.

To achieve the water diversion, the city has undertaken a construction effort to pump water to Lake Gerladine. It’s expected that the pumping apparatus will be fully functional before the end of this week.

Experts involved in the project include exp, Golder Associates, Concentric Engineering, and Nunavut joint venture Nunami-Stantec. This is in conjunction with a task force comprised of representatives from city, territorial, and federal governments and departments, as well as local agencies and regulatory bodies, who are contributing to the emergency diversion project.

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Image shows the relative locations of Lake Geraldine and Apex River, as well as the intake point of diversion project. Credit: City of Iqaluit.

“Currently there are two pumps running in parallel, approximately ten kilometres of flexibile hoses, and connected in ten parallel runs of one kilometre each,” said Chris Ferris, chief operating officer, Outcrop Nunanut on behalf of the City of Iqaluit. “Two hundred metres of gravel access road has been constructed and an earth berm and liner for the fuel tank.”

Once at full capacity, the pumps are expected to take about seven to eight weeks to complete the transfer of water from the Apex River to Lake Geraldine. “They just started pumping yesterday,” said Ferris on Monday. “So, it’s not running at full capacity, yet. Right now, it’s up to about 40 Litres of water per second. And that was just with one pump running.” The expected capacity of the pumping system is 45 Litres of water per second per hose.

In a statement, Iqaluit stated that it’s “confident that by being proactive and taking steps now to increase the amount of water in Lake Geraldine is the way to proceed.”

In the midst of this water crisis, the city continues, with exp, to work on a water management plan. Work started on the plan in January, but the management plan is expected to provide long-term strategies for the city’s water supply. A report from exp in 2014 found that diverting water to Lake Geraldine would be an effective measure to boost the city’s water supply, but it also warned that this was a short-term solution and that the city would still face a water supply crisis if further measures were not taken. Not just Iqaluit, but Nunavut as a whole faces a water security crisis.

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