Canadian Consulting Engineer

WSP responds to Iqaluit water crisis

November 19, 2021

WSP logo

CBC News reports WSP Canada has been providing investigative, planning and administrative support to the city of Iqaluit, Nunavut, to address its water crisis. Due to fuel contamination, the city declared a do-not-consume advisory and state of emergency on Oct. 12.

According to CBC, WSP compiled city testing data from the last half of October, after officials drained and bypassed its water treatment plant’s north tank, which had previously exhibited very high concentrations of F2 petroleum hydrocarbons, including kerosene and diesel. Between Oct. 16 and 31, CBC reports, the data showed these hydrocarbons were detected four times, in four locations, with the highest amount exceeding national drinking water guidelines by roughly 46%.

Iqaluit’s city council hired WSP to manage and remove the contamination. The north tank was emptied, cleaned and removed from use for the time being. CBC explains WSP found the contamination’s entry point was at a raw water storage tank near the start of the plant’s water treatment process, not the north well as assumed earlier, and the fuel’s source was a rusted tank dating back to 1962.


“In isolating and bypassing the suspected point of entry, thereafter we saw a continual reduction in petroleum hydrocarbon concentrations leaving the water treatment plant,” said WSP waste and wastewater engineer-in-training Ian Moran, according to CBC. “We don’t believe you’ve suffered a long period of contamination before it was detected.”

City council has opted for a bypass system that disinfects raw water through ultraviolet (UV) radiation and chlorination before storing it above ground in reservoirs, says CBC, and the cost may be compensated through Nunavut’s Municipal Request for Assistance Program.

As for WSP, having completed the initial remediation phase, the firm will develop further response plans and system upgrades and is removing the aging underground tank.


Stories continue below

Print this page

Related Stories