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article imageOne Canadian Arctic community is running out of water

By Karen Graham     Jun 13, 2017 in Environment
Iqaluit - Iqaluit, the capital of the northern territory of Nunavut, with a population of around 7,500. It is a fast-growing community. However, unless action is taken now, the city's water supply will run out due to climate change.
Iqaluit has been experiencing a growth spurt, with its population increasing by over 40 percent since 1999, when the new territory of Nunavut was formed. And while the Arctic community has relied on Lake Geraldine for their fresh water supplies, population growth, along with the impacts of climate change have made the availability, quality, and sustainability of fresh water a pressing issue.
The city has even looked at diverting water from the Apex River as a second water source, but according to research led by Andrew Scott Medeiros, a geography professor at York University in Toronto, who once lived in Iqaluit, the community is in danger of running out of fresh water by 2024.
Nunavut s capital  Iqaluit is located at the right on the map.
Nunavut's capital, Iqaluit is located at the right on the map.
Maximilian Dörrbecker (Chumwa)
According to a new study published on Monday in the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research, even if population growth remains stable without any additional growth, current climate change projections show demand will outstrip supply for freshwater in the Arctic community
In a telephone interview with Motherboard, Medeiros explained that part of the problem is with Iqaluit's aging water system. Water is first pumped out of Lake Geraldine, treated and then sent to the city through pipes. The pipes bleed a lot of water, and on top of that, climate change is having a direct effect on how much or how little water is entering the system.
This image map covers Lake Geraldine  the lake supply of drinking water in the town of Iqaluit  Nuna...
This image map covers Lake Geraldine, the lake supply of drinking water in the town of Iqaluit, Nunavut.
Natural Resources Canada
Another problem is with the Apex River. CTV News Canada reports that according to the study, the river can only offer a short-term solution because the river is replenished by rainfall. Fast-rising temperatures in the Arctic are expected to change rainfall patterns, leaving the Apex River nothing more than a trickling stream by 2024.
Using novel hydrologic modeling and climate forecasting, the research looked ahead twenty years. The study found that the presence of permafrost, low precipitation, rising consumption and changes in climate placed an additional strain on the limited resource of surface freshwater.
The research highlights the need to address end-of-winter water shortages, due to climate change, with over winter replenishment. Otherwise, consumption restrictions would be necessary. It also provides city planners in many Northern communities who rely on one lake for water sources with the information needed to better plan for the future.
More about Iqaluit, canadian arctic, Hydrologic monitoring, Lake Geraldine, Apex River
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