The City of Iqaluit will spend $100,000 on a bypass system for its water treatment plant.
It’s a move city administration hopes will help meet requirements for the Government of Nunavut to lift a do-not-consume water advisory that has been in place in Iqaluit for more than a month. People in the city haven’t been able to drink their water since Oct. 12, when fuel contamination was discovered at the treatment plant.
Chief administrative officer Amy Elgersma presented the plan to build the bypass system to councillors during a special council meeting Nov. 15.
Council voted unanimously to approve the plan, pending GN approval of it. The city will try to recoup the money through the territorial government’s Municipal Request for Assistance program.
The bypass system, which was expected to be in place as soon as Nov. 20, will allow treatment plant operators to feed raw water around the underground tanks while giving it two tiers of disinfection — UV and chlorine. Then, the water will be stored in above-ground reservoirs.
There’s a chance of debris entering the reservoir because water flowing through the bypass system will be unfiltered. That may make the water taste different, said Elgersma.
The bypass system will be a permanent addition to the water treatment plant and can be used in case of future emergencies or when upgrades are needed.
Coun. Romeyn Stevenson asked if the system would help satisfy the GN’s requirements to lift the do-not-consume order, to which Elgersma said that the GN is still reviewing the plan.
Elgersma also could not offer council a timeline as to when the do-not-consume order will be lifted.
City officials had to stop pumping from its backup source, the Sylvia Grinnell River, last week, due to falling temperatures. The Canadian military continues to pump and purify water from the river for the city to distribute with its water trucks.
“Weather is getting pretty cold and pumping operations … and distribution are challenging, and maintaining bottled water distribution is not practical or sustainable,” Elgersma said.
Also at the meeting, the two consultants for engineering firm WSP Canada presented raw data the city has collected at various points throughout Iqaluit’s treatment and distribution system. The data covers testing between the dates of Oct. 16 and 31.
David Venn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunatsiaq News