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City wants longer term water licence
Yellowknife wants new water licence to last 15 years

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, December 10, 2009

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - Yellowknife has applied to renew its water licence with almost double the term limits.

NNSL photo/graphic

Aerial view of the Fiddler's Lagoon where Yellowknife's sewage collects. The city is seeking a long term water licence from the Mackenzie Land and Water Board.- NNSL file photo

The Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board will hold public hearings regarding the City of Yellowknife's water licence renewal application on Jan. 19 and 20 at the Explorer Hotel. The current licence issued in May 2002 will expire next May 30. The city wants the renewed licence to be valid for 15 years, as opposed to the current eight, citing eight reasons in its application to the board.

The city argued it was previously granted a 10-year licence from 1982 to 1992, while Whitehorse has a 15-year water licence from 2003 and the city experienced a "significant decrease in water demand despite an increase in population." Yellowknife city officials said it used about 2,792,500 cubic meters of water in 2008 with an expected increase to 3,631,000 cubic meters in 2025.

"It's quite a large process in terms of trying to put all the documents together to make the application for the water licence," said Dennis Kefalas, director of public works and engineering with the city. "We don't expect any major changes come within that 15-year period so what not be more efficient and grant a 15-year period."

Four organizations applied to intervene during the hearings, including Environment Canada, which does not support a 15-year water licence for Yellowknife, preferring a term no longer than 10 years.

"While the city has shown progress on the requirements of the existing licence, a number of submissions and/or actions were done well past the due dates and recommended actions have not been implemented," the federal department wrote to the board. It will also require the city to improve sewage treatment and solid waste monitoring during the term of the licence.

The federal Indian and Northern Affairs department submitted 16 recommendations to the board, including the city provide the board a revised Fiddler's Lake Treatment System Plan.

The territorial department of the environment and natural resources plans to intervene as it has outstanding concerns regarding leachates liquid that drains from a landfill - from the solid waste disposal facility that might harm the environment.

The North Slave Metis Alliance plans to intervene because it feels the city will take water from what they consider traditional lands without compensating them, it wrote in a letter to the board. It added the city uses traditional lands for solid and waste discharges as well as water treatment without compensating the alliance.

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