Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit June 25, 2015 - 6:03 am

Iqaluit can’t afford to fix its $26.5M sewage treatment headache

But 2018 federal compliance deadline approaching

DAVID MURPHY
Iqaluit Coun. Terry Dobbin asked city staff what would happen if they failed to meet a 2018 federal compliance deadline for upgrading the city's wastewater treatment plant. But Paul Chow said he wasn't sure, adding they would have to approach federal officials and discuss the matter when the time came. (FILE PHOTO)
Iqaluit Coun. Terry Dobbin asked city staff what would happen if they failed to meet a 2018 federal compliance deadline for upgrading the city's wastewater treatment plant. But Paul Chow said he wasn't sure, adding they would have to approach federal officials and discuss the matter when the time came. (FILE PHOTO)

Fixing Iqaluit’s floundering wastewater facility will cost $26.5 million — but Iqaluit doesn’t have the money.

That’s what Iqaluit city councillors heard from the city’s engineering and sustainability project officer, Paul Clow, at a council meeting June 23. 

Clow told council that engineering and consulting firm Stantec finished its feasibility study on the wastewater facility and concluded that the cheapest and best option is to expand and upgrade the current infrastructure.

There’s just one problem.

Clow said the city is short almost $10 million.

“The estimated cost for the recommended work is $26.5 million,” Clow told councillors.

“The current capital plan has $16.8 million in remaining funds allocated for this project,” Clow said. “A funding plan needs to be in place to address this $9.7-million shortfall.”

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada ordered the City of Iqaluit to update its secondary treatment process by Dec. 31, 2018.

Iqaluit’s current wastewater treatment plant provides “primary treatment only and cannot achieve treatment levels necessary to meet current regulatory requirements,” Clow said, adding that a “secondary treatment process” must be put in place to ensure federal compliance.

“In order to move forward with this project it is recommended that council accepts the recommendations of a wastewater treatment plant feasibility study and directs staff to develop a funding plan to address the budget shortfall,” Clow said.

The study recommends three key points to the city:

• use the existing wastewater treatment plant building with necessary upgrades/expansion;

• complete upgrades to the headworks (sewage receiving, preliminary screening, primary screening); and,

• install a moving bed biofilm reactor to achieve secondary treatment.

The design of the upgrades would meet “regulatory requirements and meet the city’s capacity requirements for a 20-year design horizon,” Clow said.

Coun. Terry Dobbin asked what would happen if Iqaluit doesn’t meet the 2018 deadline?

“We could go discuss with AANDC about extending this timeline. I can’t say for sure that they’d give us this extension,” Clow said.

“I can’t speak to what exactly would happen if they did not extend the deadline and we were unable to meet this deadline,” he said.

Clow also said they might be able to tap into federal infrastructure Canada funding.

“But as of now we have not pursued any sort of funding to this point,” Clow said.

Deputy Mayor Romeyn Stevenson said that if they can gets an extension, maybe the city can use its next block funding from the Government of Nunavut to pay for the upgrades.

All councillors voted to accept the recommendations from Stantec’s feasibility study.

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