Supporting the World’s Largest Aboriginal Water Quality Program
Tetra Tech participated in the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council biennial summit in Mayo, Yukon Territories, in August. The Yukon River watershed is the fourth largest watershed in North America, covering an area twice the size of California. From the headwaters in northern British Columbia, the Yukon River flows through the Yukon, then across Alaska and into the Bering Sea.
Fifteen years ago, representatives from 72 Alaskan tribes and Canadian First Nations from British Columbia and the Yukon formed the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council. This cross-border, inter-tribal organization is ensuring the preservation of one of the most pristine watersheds in the world, whose waters flow through the groups’ native lands. The Council is developing a common water quality management plan and an integrated water monitoring program. It is a true grass-roots movement, with a small permanent staff supported by a large community of aboriginal volunteers and legal and scientific professionals. U.S. and Canadian government institutions—including the U.S. National Science Foundation, U.S. Geologic Survey, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Health Canada—provide funding support.
“We witnessed the historic adoption by the Council of a draft Water Quality Plan, including a common Water Quality Standard intended to be applied across the entirety of an international river,” said Ryan Martin from Tetra Tech’s Whitehorse, Canada, office. “It was amazing to be there to see the energy and emotion expressed by the voting delegates and to hear elders share traditional knowledge in support of this action. People will remember that Tetra Tech was there!”
The Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation, host of the event and one of Tetra Tech’s joint venture partners, greatly appreciated Tetra Tech’s sponsorship and attendance. The summit provided an excellent opportunity to discuss a number of opportunities, including ones involving health of the Yukon River watershed. Tetra Tech also educated participants about our expertise related to water quality, watershed modelling, river restoration, and environmental remediation.
Tetra Tech has performed several projects that have been key drivers of the Yukon economy. Our work includes the upgrade of Yukon Energy’s local high voltage network; environmental, engineering, and construction management support for Alexco Resource Corporation’s Bellekeno silver mine; and a feasibility study for Victoria Gold Corporation’s Eagle Gold Project, potentially the largest gold mine in Yukon history.
Tetra Tech has a vested interest in the future of the Yukon, as many of our mining, energy, environmental monitoring, and remediation programs in the Yukon and Alaska are proximal to the Yukon River. Many of our relationships with Canadian First Nations and Alaskan tribes are represented on the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council.
Learn more about the Council and its activities at yritwc.org.