Warming weather in Iqaluit may bring more water woes: City council

Iqaluit’s water pipes have had a rough winter, and the problem may be made worse by warm weather expected this week.

As a result, city council is warning people to conserve water.

Mayor Solomon Awa delivered a speech in Inuktitut at Tuesday’s council meeting, which deputy Mayor Kyle Sheppard followed up with in English.

“A rapid shift in temperature can cause many problems with our piped water,” Sheppard said.

He said temperature changes cause the ground to shift and the pipes themselves to expand and contract.

“Most of our water breaks are at the connections of the pipes to the access vaults,” he said in a message to Nunatsiaq News. “When the access vaults shift, the pipes aren’t flexible enough [to] move with them.”

Iqaluit is forecasted to see a low temperature of -15 C Thursday before it rises to -7 C on Friday and hovers around that range for the rest of the weekend.

This comes after about a month of temperatures frequently dropping to -50 C with wind chill. The cold weather has caused several breaks and leaks in the city’s water infrastructure and sewage backups that have temporarily closed buildings across the city, including the legislative assembly at one point.

Service pipes to individual buildings have suffered, too. Tenants of Iqaluit House, a mixed-used building owned by Northview REIT, went approximately two weeks without water and suffered sewage backups as well over that time.

Most recently, the city’s Plateau neighbourhood suffered a water-main break that interrupted water services there last week.

An excavator digs into the ground on Upper Plateau at around 7:15 p.m. Tuesday. A trail of ice can be seen down the road. (Photo by David Venn)

Simon Doiron, the city’s director of public works, told Nunatsiaq News he agrees the warm weather could bring problems. He hopes it doesn’t, though, and that instead his team gets a break.

At the meeting, Sheppard thanked residents for their patience and city staff for their hard work.

“Our public works crews have been putting in 14-hour days, day after day, to make sure you have running water in your home,” Sheppard said.

“Thank you for your very hard work, the way you get up and do it all over again.”

If residents do not have water in their home, Sheppard said they should contact the city at 979-5650, or their landlord, and that posting on social media isn’t enough.

David Venn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunatsiaq News