Water

In Nunavik, wetlands and bodies of water occupy a considerable portion of the territory and are important for the practice of subsistence activities. Indeed, many lakes and rivers are used by Inuit and Naskapi for travel. For its part, permafrost plays an important role in the region’s hydrology and its thawing, which is being accelerated by climate change, represents a major environmental challenge. Fragmented understanding of wetlands and bodies of water in the north complicates the implementation of protection measures.

The KEAC monitors drinking water quality strategies and regulations applicable in Nunavik. This includes the health of the region’s residents, in particular in relation to community drinking water supply, and the need for adequate public infrastructure that meets standards. The KEAC also monitors laws and regulations to ensure that proper consideration is given to the unique and fragile nature of Nunavik’s wetlands and bodies of water.

Draft Regulation respecting Activities in Wetlands, Bodies of Water and Sensitive Areas

In May 2020, the KEAC submitted feedback and recommendations regarding the draft Regulation respecting Activities in Wetlands, Bodies of Water and Sensitive Areas. Implementation of the regulation in Nunavik will be complex, in particular because the regulation does not take into consideration the role played by permafrost in the hydrology of northern areas. Numerous site development constraints in the northern villages due to topography and permafrost thawing, plus the variable areas of wetlands and bodies of water, will make it difficult to comply with the different distances prescribed in the regulation.

Modernization of measures to ensure conservation and the continuation of ecological functions in wetlands and bodies of water

In a letter submitted to the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (the environment and the fight against climate change) in February 2018, the KEAC pointed out that Nunavik water resources and wetlands did not fully benefit from the reform of the legal framework applicable to wetlands and bodies of water in order to modernize measures to ensure conservation and the continuation and enhancement of ecological functions, despite the fact that the region possesses unique and fragile aquatic ecosystems. The KEAC believes that the wetlands and bodies of water in Nunavik must receive the same level of protection as those in other parts of Québec and that differences in levels of protection in the north and south of the province must be avoided.

Drinking water – residential tanks

Between 2007 and 2009, the KEAC partnered with the École Polytechnique de Montréal, the Kativik Municipal Housing Bureau and the Kativik Regional Government to conduct a pilot study on the cleaning of drinking water tanks found in homes in the region. At the end of the study, the École Polytechnique de Montréal recommended that preventive cleaning of drinking water tanks be carried out annually with specialized equipment and trained staff. In a letter transmitted in 2012, the KEAC encouraged the Société d’habitation du Québec (housing corporation) to fund the cleaning of drinking water tanks so that regional social housing tenants can be assured of access to quality drinking water. The KEAC continues to support efforts to assist communities to promote and maintain quality drinking water in Nunavik homes.