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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 - Updated: 9/26/2019


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. 

Published On

Thursday, April 30, 2009


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

Related Resources

Preparing Communities of the Northwest Territories for the Impacts of Climate Change on Municipal Water and Wastewater Systems

Photo attributed to Leslie Philipp. Incorporated here under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. No endorsement by licensor implied.

Case Study
Sector Addressed: 
Rural / Indigenous Livelihoods
Water Resources

Communities in the Northwest Territories (NWT) of Canada are likely to experience climate changes such as increasing air temperatures and changes in precipitation. These changes have the potential to lead to permafrost melting and coastal erosion which can negatively impact municipal water and wastewater systems.