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Water Today Title June 29, 2022

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Advisory of the Day



This story is brought to you in part by Borrum Energy Solutions

A request for proposal (RFP) released by the government of Nunavut has outlined some serious concerns about the water treatment systems servicing the Hamlet of Rankin Inlet.

The RFP, which was issued on November 10, is inviting consultants to bid on a feasibility study to determine the best course of action to replace aging water infrastructure in the hamlet.

The Williamson Lake Pump House (WLPH) and the Nipissar Lake Pump House (NLPH) are both considered past their expiration date. Both pump houses were constructed in the 1970s and they haven't been adequately upgraded since.

According to the RFP, "The design of the system does not meet current codes and standards nor does it meet the current and future water needs of the Hamlet," adding, "The condition of most system components are past their service life and are at risk of critical failure."

Williamson Lake Pump House, which is considered, "The heart of the system," has seen extended loops and buildings added to its workload without the necessary upgrades to facilitate them. This has put a lot of strain on its components leaving it unable to meet its requirements.

The RFP says that, "Residents experience the inconvenience of constant low pressures and additionally do not have adequate fire protection services."

Included in the noticed issues for the Williamson Lake Pump House are:
  • Corrosion of piping (both inside and out) as well as the wet well,
  • The wet wells showing significant deterioration,
  • A floor drain leaking into a wet well, valves functioning incorrectly (resulting in difficulties isolating areas for maintenance),
  • Concrete housing of the supply pumps suffering deterioration,
  • and the roof having integrity issues

Its fellow pump house, NLPH, has a shorter but no less significant list of concerns. The building envelope is not weather tight (which has resulted in snow accumulated inside the building), the intake line does not reach the deepest part of the lake and the intake pumps are nearing capacity which could affect their ability to accommodate the hamlet's growth.

The report says that the condition of the pump houses pose health and safety issues for both the community serves as well as the operators who run them.

For the residents: a poor ventilation system has resulted in the fluoridation system being taken offline, inadequate chlorine residual in the distribution system resulted in a boil water advisory in April of 2015, safety concerns of the chlorine air concentration above the water level in wet wells require them to remain closed, which prevents adequate monitoring.

For operators: shoddy wiring doesn't meet code and isn't grounded, asbestos has been found in the WLPH and there is a concern that chlorine ventilation is insufficient.

"On our list of 25 must haves on our capital list, those two pump houses are in our top five," said Justin Merrit, Rankin Inlet's Senior Administrative Officer, "With the exception of Iqaluit which is tax based, all the other hamlets have wish lists and the (Government of Nunavut) infrastructure team makes the decision on what products are funded."

When asked on when changes will finally get around to getting made, Merrit said that the Government of Nunavut who had just had an election for Members of the Legislative Assembly this September, so he expects that in January they'll get down to business on whether they're approving the funds.

As the construction season in Rankin Inlet is quite short, Merrit posits that it could be a couple years still before the pump houses are completed.

From the picture the RFP paints, that might seem too long but Merrit doesn't seem quite as concerned.

"They have some problems with leaks but it seems to be running fine," he said, "We haven't received any emergency updates recently. It's a serious issue and we want it replaced but I don't think it's an emergency situation. " Proposals to bid on the study must be in by December 1.

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