Iqaluit restricts water use for second consecutive year amid “unprecedented drought conditions”

Iqaluit’s water shortage has forced the city to restrict usage for the second year in a row.

Climate change and a growing population have strained the Nunavut capital’s water resources, forcing city council to put restrictions on water usage as they work to pump water from another nearby lake.

“Ultimately, the driving force has been the weather conditions over the last two years. We’re receiving unprecedented drought conditions,” says Iqaluit City Councilor Kyle Sheppard. “Precipitation over the winter was very low — that’s the main driver of filling our reservoir.”

Last year the city pumped water from the Apex River to Lake Geraldine, the city’s reservoir.

Now, due to an all-time low rainfall, the Apex River is almost dry.

So the city will pump water from an unnamed lake 3.5 kilometres east of Lake Geraldine into the Apex. From the river, it will be pumped into Lake Geraldine, hopefully filling the reservoir by Oct. 15, say city officials.

The city plans to  pump 400,000,000 litres of water over 60 days, before expected first snowfall in October,

City water usage restrictions have already barred residents from using tap water to wash cars. Over the last two years, Iqaluit has plugged many of the leaks that plague their water pipe system.

The city has also lobbied federal officials for more money.

Sheppard said the city chose the unnamed lake as its temporary water source based on local traditional knowledge shared with the city.

“It wasn’t being considered initially, but with the collection of that information we were able to see it as a temporary viable source for right now.”

Video Journalist / Iqaluit

Kent has been APTN’s Nunavut correspondent since 2007. In that time he has closely covered Inuit issues, including devolution and the controversial Nutrition North food subsidy. He has also worked for CKIQ-FM in Iqaluit and as a reporter for Nunavut News North.