Canadian Arctic Waters Threatened

Inuvic Settlement

Tuktoyaktuk Settlement

If rivers such as the mighty Mackenzie were impounded and diverted or reversed, First Nation traditional life styles in settlements like Inuvic and Tuktoyaktuk (above), would be lost forever.

Arctic Permafrost

In spite of apparent plentiful surface water, no one knows how much fresh water is stored beneath the Arctic permafrost.

Northern Ocean

Diversions would seriously affect the salinity balance of northern oceans.


From the easterly slope of the Rocky Mountains, across the bulk of mainland Canada to central Labrador, fresh surface water flows northerly into Arctic seas. This is the Arctic Watershed. From as far south as Chapleau, Ontario and Jasper, Alberta, waters flow north rather than south, taking fresh water north to mix with Arctic salt water.

It has taken eons of time for Arctic waters to reach the salinity mix presently found there. Existing and proposed diversions to reroute northbound waters to moisture starved U.S. southern states would cause irreparable damage to stable Arctic ecosystems if allowed to proceed.

The world assumes that Canada has an over-abundance of fresh water and should be willing to “share”. But who can say with certainty, for instance, whether or not there are fresh water reserves beneath Canada’s permafrost? We have a responsibility to future generations of all species to pass intact ecosystems on to them.

Long-established First Nations communities have traditionally depended on the northern rivers and lakes for sustenance and travel. It would be folly to expect that the myriad of plant and animal species affected, could adapt successfully to the unpredictable fluctuating flows and levels, which always result from the massive dams and geographic engineering alterations that accompany diversions. Thus another traditional way of life would be lost forever.

If Canada were to divert her north-flowing waters to the United States and Mexico, this would encourage even greater water usage, and only lead to bigger problems when the time comes that no new sources are available. In the meantime, one of the world’s last true wilderness areas would have been irretrievably despoiled. NO – the time to implement land use planning, human population distribution and fresh water conservation south of Canada’s border is now, before it is too late.

Many single steps result in a journey. If we allow northern water diversions to the south to proceed on a “case-by-case”, or “experimental”, or “1-only” basis, soon we will be too far into the journey to turn back. There are already Arctic precedents, such as the Longlac and Ogoki Diversions in Ontario, which developers will try to use as justification for future schemes to divert northern waters to the south. The time to decide against this journey is now, before more damage is done.


Diversions of Arctic rivers would cause species such as ptarmigan,
arctic fox and caribou to all suffer drastic habitat loss