The City of Yellowknife’s Type A water licence, which regulates the amount of water the city is allowed to withdraw and dispose into the environment, expires in May 2022 and staff are preparing to apply for a renewal of the licence for 15 years.
Under the NWT Waters Act, the city must apply to the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board (MVLWB) for a municipal Type A water licence.
Senior administrative officer Sheila Bassi-Kellett said a licence renewal boils down to environmental protection and ensuring that the municipality is drawing and disposing of water in a responsible way.
“The water licence impacts all of our actions with water, wastewater, solid waste management storm water and spill contingency,” she said. “It is very extensive.”
Council heard a presentation by Wendy Newton, manager of engineering and expert lead on the water renewal file, during Monday’s governance and priorities committee meeting.
The city’s application will allow the municipality to use 2,000 cubic metres or more per day and “any deposit of sewage serving a population of 2,000 or more,” Newton said.
“We will be seeking a renewal for 15 years and that renewal process can take up to 18 months and that is 18 months once submitted to the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board,” she said.
The MVLWB has asked the city to submit its renewal application by January 2021. An issuance of the licence is expected as early as February 2022. Much of next year will be taken up with technical sessions and public hearings in the spring and summer, as is legally required under the act.
Newton said staff have been working on renewing the water licence since 2019 and noted the complex process of providing several documents related to water usage, particularly involving city facilities like the water treatment plant, storm water and wastewater facilities, the solid waste facility, contingency plan, and spill contingency.
Licensing also regulates most aspects of the city’s waste and water facilities, which will include the “terms and conditions for the design, construction, operation, maintenance, monitoring, management and reporting.”
The city’s surveillance and sampling requirements are also regulated under the licence as are other aspects like closure and reclamation of waste disposal facilities and management of storm water.
The Public Health Act, under the Department of Health and Social Services, is the only other act related to water regulation in the NWT and it provides legal guidelines around drinking water quality.
Planned city projects
Newton said there are several planned infrastructure projects between 2021 and 2024 that are required for the the water licence renewal. Among them include a Trappers’ Lake control structure replacement, construction at the lagoon sludge laydown area, lagoon dam inspections, engineering at lift station #5 sewage containment area, lift station backup power, submarine pipeline replacement engineering and landfill planning cell C.
A multi-year project to remove sludge from the lagoon is to begin in 2022.
“So it is a number of projects over a number of years,” Newton said.