New Tools for Northern Groundwater Vulnerability Assessment

Principal Investigator: Jeffrey M. McKenzie (McGill University)

Co-Investigator: David Rudolph (University of Waterloo)

Project Overview

The reliance on groundwater resources in northern Canada is rapidly increasing, yet the understanding of its occurrence and vulnerability is very poorly understood. The unique characteristics of both the climatic and subsurface conditions in the north (e.g. extreme cold, permafrost, etc.) significantly influences groundwater systems and their vulnerability.

In this proposed research project, major groundwater stakeholders ranging from Territorial and municipal governments, indigenous communities, and private water users will be directly engaged with the research team to co-create groundwater management and vulnerability assessment strategies specific to the challenges of the North. The major focus is on developing a novel methodology for Northern Groundwater Vulnerability Assessment for aquifers and wells in the Yukon and Northwest Territories (NWT).

Two pilot locations have been selected for implementation and evaluation of the selected/developed vulnerability assessment methods; Riverdale Aquifer in the Yukon Territories, which provides water for Whitehorse (pop. 32,000), and the Community of Whatì, NWT (pop. 500), a member community of the Tłı̨ chǫ government. Both rely completely on groundwater for their drinking water supplies. The utility and performance of the vulnerability assessment approaches will be evaluated at both sites by the research team and the collaborating stakeholders.