11. Water

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Last Updated: 
May 2015

All ecosystems and humans depend on water; therefore, there is a direct connection between ecosystem health and the state of water resources. It is important to NWT residents that the quantity and quality of water resources within the Territory are maintained.

Water resources are not limitless. There are increasing pressures on these resources through climate change and human actions. Aquatic ecosystems are made up of water, sediments, living organisms, and their interactions. If one of these components is impaired, the overall health of the aquatic ecosystem is compromised. 

To track the integrity of the ecosystem, it is useful to establish indicators for each of the components including water quality and quantity. 

Water in the Taiga Plains

Water in the Taiga Plains: Falls along the Hay River.
Water in the Taiga Plains: Falls along the Hay River.


Ultimately, if aquatic ecosystem health is compromised, it is reflected in the biological community. Biomonitoring enhances water quality and quantity monitoring assessments by measuring the health of the biological community, reflecting the combined effects of water chemistry, sediment chemistry, physical habitat characteristics, hydrology, nutrient levels and food availability.

The vast majority of the NWT lies within the Mackenzie River Basin, where water flows through river systems that eventually drain into the Mackenzie River and into the Beaufort Sea. This is Canada's largest river basin and the second largest river basin in North America, draining parts of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Nunavut and the NWT.

Updated: May 2015