NWT Water Monitoring Bulletin – June 3, 2024

News Type: 
Water monitoring bulletin

The Government of the Northwest Territories maintains water monitoring stations across the territory to keep track of water levels and flow rates in areas of potential flood risk for communities.

This information is provided regularly to territorial and regional emergency managers to help understand the status of waterways across the NWT in the lead-up to, and during spring break-up – the highest-risk period for floods in the Northwest Territories.

Technical Data

Current Status –Territorial Overview

This report is our Monthly Water Monitoring Bulletin for June. Our Spring Break-Up Reports have finished for the 2024 season as the flood risk due to ice break-up has passed for NWT communities.

  • Water levels and flow rates on many lakes and rivers across the NWT remain very low, and in some cases are the lowest ever recorded for this time of year.
    • The low water levels are the result of multi-year drought conditions.
      • There have been extremely hot and dry conditions that began during the summer of 2022, persisted throughout 2023, and have extended into 2024.
    • Flow rates on the Slave River (the major tributary to Great Slave Lake) are at their lowest recorded for this time of year.
    • Great Slave Lake remains at its lowest water level recorded for this time of year.
    • All other tributaries to Great Slave Lake are either well below average or at their lowest recorded for this time of year.
    • Flow rates at most locations along the Mackenzie River are either well below average or at their lowest recorded value for this time of year.
    • Flow rates along the Liard River are well below average for this time of year.
    • Water level on Great Bear Lake is near the lowest recorded value for this time of year.
    • Exceptions to the low water levels are local lakes and rivers in the Gwich’in and Inuvialuit regions. These are above normal due to very high snowpack volumes this winter and above normal precipitation in May. 
      • Note: that this does not include the Mackenzie River or the Mackenzie Delta, where water levels are below average for this time of year.
  • During May, temperatures across the territory were generally above average. Precipitation was approximately average or below average. Exceptions include:
    • Well above average precipitation in Norman Wells.
    • Well above average precipitation and below average temperatures in Inuvik.
  • Information provided from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) meteorologists suggest that precipitation over the Mackenzie River basin in June, July, and August will be lower than normal, with the largest anomalies (i.e., the biggest difference relative to normal) occurring in the most southerly regions of NWT and the northern regions of British Columbia and Alberta;
    • An ECCC analysis suggests that there will not be an improvement to the dry conditions for the northern prairies and NWT for June, July and August.
  • Water levels on Great Slave Lake and the Mackenzie River this coming summer will be impacted by rainfall amounts in northern Alberta and British Columbia.
    • A significant amount of precipitation (multiple months above average) is needed for water levels to rebound to normal levels.