Low Water In Mackenzie River Diverts Northern Cargo

Credit: Erik Mclean/Pexels

An N.W.T. Marine Transportation System barge in a file photo from 2016. Cargo destined north of Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., this year is going to take a significant detour due to low water on the Mackenzie River.

Drought Challenges

The N.W.T.’s Marine Transportation Services will now transport cargo overland and up the Dempster Highway, adding a 4,000-kilometre detour before delivery to communities by barge.

“This really is historically low water. It’s been a very hot, dry summer.” said Tracy St-Denis, assistant deputy minister for programs and services with the N.W.T.’s department of Infrastructure.

Northern Supply Shuffle

Fuel destined for Inuvik, Ulukhaktok, Sachs Harbour and Paulatuk will be delivered via a tanker travelling the 5,000 kilometre shipping route from Cherry Point, Wash., via the B.C. coast and around Alaska to Tuktoyaktuk.

“What we’re trying to do is just make sure that we mitigate risks and we ensure that the … essential cargo and the fuel gets to the communities this summer,” St. Denis said.

The Mackenzie River from Hay River to Inuvik covers roughly 1,600 kilometers. Both alternate routes will add hundreds of kilometers in distance that must be traveled.

Free of Charge

St. Denis said, “From a customer’s perspective, we’re hoping that it’s seamless and in fact there actually is no difference.”

In a news release, Infrastructure Minister Diane Archie said it was a priority of the Marine Transportation Service to “do all it can so residents and businesses that rely on its services for essential freight and fuel get these supplies in a cost-effective manner and without delay.”

The final acceptance date for Inuvik, Aklavik and Tuktoyaktuk has been moved from July 30 to July 21. Other dates will be posted online when finalized.

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Source: CBC News


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