Navigating the Waters of Change: Strengthening the Capacity of NWT Communities to Respond to the Impacts of Climate Change on Municipal Water and Wastewater Systems

Created: 4/29/2009 -


The Western Canadian Arctic has experienced some of the most rapid and intense climate changes on Earth, with global climate models predicting that average surface temperatures may increase by 4-7°C by the 2080s. Global Climate Models project a 15-30% increase in precipitation in the Western Arctic by the 2080s; however, projected precipitation changes are quite variable across regions. Changes in precipitation and temperature, and their impacts on ecosystem processes, will affect many facets of life in the NWT, including how communities manage water and wastewater.

The purpose of this paper is to provide a preliminary assessment of the potential impacts of climate change on water and wastewater systems in the NWT, and recommend actions to increase the capacity of communities to respond and adapt to changes. Information in this paper was collected through interviews with individuals working in water and wastewater management in the NWT, and through review of scientific studies on this subject. 

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Ecology North is a charitable, non-profit organization based in Yellowknife that was formed in 1971 to support sound environmental decision-making on an individual, community and regional level. 


Community / Local
State / Provincial
Sector Addressed
Rural / Indigenous Livelihoods
Transportation / Infrastructure
Water Resources
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Capacity Building
Monitor climate change impacts and adaptation efficacy
Infrastructure, Planning, and Development
Infrastructure retrofitting and improvements
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Infrastructure damage
Public health risks
Water quality
Water supply
Sociopolitical Setting

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