The Slave River and Delta Partnership (SRDP) is a long-term community-based monitoring project stemming directly from Northern Voices, Northern Waters: NWT Water Stewardship Strategy (the Water Strategy).
The main goals of the SRDP project are to:
- ensure communities have the opportunity to be actively involved in research, monitoring and planning initiatives along the Slave River and Delta.
- support and coordinate community-based research and monitoring programs along the Slave River and Delta that are grounded in both traditional knowledge and western science.
Partners included are Indigenous and municipal governments, federal and territorial government agencies, non-government organizations and academic institutions.
From 2010-2012 the SRDP developed a State of the Knowledge Report for the Slave River watershed. This report included the best available traditional knowledge and western science. Key areas addressed includes: hydrology and sediment load, water quality, sediment quality, fish and insect/benthic communities (including fish population and health), wildlife, vegetation, air and climate.
Following the State of the Knowledge report, additional workshops and community meetings were held to develop a Vulnerability Assessment, and to prioritize key community concerns in areas identified as vulnerable that required immediate follow-up research and monitoring.
The following key priorities for immediate research and monitoring were identified:
• Fish health and contaminants
• Water quantity and flow
• Furbearer population and health
In order to address the information gap about fish health and contaminants, SRDP's first research project aimed to investigate contaminant levels in traditionally harvested fish species (including pickerel, jackfish, loche, whitefish and goldeye). This involved collecting fish samples on the Slave River and Delta at various locations over the course of a year (2011/2012), during all four seasons. Samples were then tested using a variety of metrics to determine presence and influence of specific contaminants (including hydrocarbons and metals) linked to upstream development activities.
Concerns about increasing contaminant concentrations in sediment loads from upstream development pressures have been raised by members of the SRDP. To address this concern, the SRDP worked with partners from Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo and conducted a sediment core analysis to examine changes in metal and contaminant concentrations over time.
The SRDP and its initiatives address Keys to Success under the Know and Plan component of the NWT Water Strategy.