North

Water levels dropping in N.W.T. due to ongoing drought

The water level in Great Slave Lake is about 10 centimetres below what it was last year this time - which was already 10 centimetres below average.

Great Slave Lake about 10 centimetres below last year's level

The water level in Great Slave Lake is about 10 centimetres below what it was last year this time, and last year it was already 10 centimetres below average. (Andrew Pacey/CBC)

Ongoing drought conditions are continuing to cause water levels to drop in the lakes and rivers of the Northwest Territories.

The water level in Great Slave Lake is about 10 centimetres below what it was last year this time, and last year it was already 10 centimetres below average.

Shawne Kokelj, a hydrologist with the N.W.T. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, says there's no indication that industrial activity upstream is contributing to the decline in water levels.

"We have nothing to point us in that direction," she says.

"Everything is pointing to the fact that it's been very dry, and it's been a number of years it's been very dry, and it's a very large area, as we've evidenced with the number of forest fires in northern B.C. and Alberta and the N.W.T. over the past couple of years."

Kokelj says water levels in Great Slave Lake — and, subsequently, the Mackenzie River — are influenced mainly by snowfall and rain in the Peace River basin in northern B.C. and Alberta. She says the snowpack there right now is 47 per cent less than it normally is.

Kokelj says it will likely take several years of above average precipitation for water levels to return to average.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.