About 950,000 litres of Iqaluit’s raw sewage has been leaking into Frobisher Bay everyday for more than two weeks.
Since March 28, a blockage at the city’s Lift Station 1 has forced an overflow into the bay so it doesn’t back up into peoples homes.
“It’s the last drainage point in town, so if you can imagine everything runs through that station,” said Matthew Hamp, director of engineering and public works for the city.
Debris such as rags and plastic created a blockage on the upstream side of the sewer — where the city’s sewage goes before being pumped to the wastewater treatment plant.
The city is working to clear the blockage and pipes, but said it doesn’t know when it will be able to stop the flow into the bay.
“That’s how these things are designed,” said Hamp. “You’ve got to divert somewhere so it doesn’t get backed into peoples yards and homes.”
The city has barricaded the overflow area at Lift Station 1, between buildings 1000 and 738, with large yellow fencing and warning people not to use the snowmobile trail on the beach where the overflow is draining under the ice.
Worry for people kayaking and boating
Pitseolak Alainga, chair of the local hunters and trappers association, is worried the sewage will start spreading throughout the bay as the sea ice breaks up.
“If there is any effect on the Arctic char and the clams, I think the plan would be to approach the city and compensate the hunters for the damage that is happening out on the bay,” said Alainga.
Alainga said the health of the people who use the bay for kayaking and boating is his main concern.
The city said they are working with the Nunavut government’s Department of Environment and Department of Health on the issue.
The next hunters and trappers meeting is April 25 where they will be discussing the issue.