Yukon Watershed

Daniel Harcourt & Pat O'Leary

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Facts About the Yukon Watershed

It is the longest river in Alaska and the 3rd longest in all of America. It is 1980 miles long and has a total area of about 521,950 square miles. The Yukon river puts out about 3,200 cubic feet of water each year. It gets its name "Yukon" (meaning "Great river") from the Native American language of Gwich'in. It was believed to be one of the first major ways of transportation for some of the early inhabitants of North America.


The Yukon river is one of the most important Salmon breeding grounds in the world. Chinook Salmon are the main type of Salmon in the area.

Water Drinking Practices in Yukon

In some areas there are no pipes for transporting drinking water. As a result they use watering points. These communities test for fecal coliform bacteria, contaminants and heavy metals. Some people even will use methods of acquiring water through precipitation, groundwater and surface water. These practices are un-monitored which makes it unsafe for those using it. Because it is un-monitored people may be exposed to unsafe or contaminated water.

Problems with Water in Yukon

Some water is often difficult to use because they are not safe enough to drink, here are some reasons:

-Presence of minerals (iron)

-High Chlorine Concentrations

-Odors

-Pollution from humans or natural sources


In some areas where the water is contaminated, people are required to boil their water before consuming it because of waterborne pathogens.

Consequences of Consuming Contaminated Water

If people consume contaminated water they may be exposed to illnesses like:

-Beaver Fever

-Legionnaire's Disease

-E. Coli

-Viral infection

-Various parasitic worm infestations

Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council (YRITWC)

The YRITWC is an organization that has made efforts to monitor the Yukon river and report safety issues.

Economic Sanctions from Contaminated Water:

Many people use the river water as a way to support themselves. Due to new information coming out about the dangers and uncleanliness of the water, many of those who pay locals for things like fish and other goods from the water are hesitant to continue. This causes an economic rift in the rural areas, and is leaving many without the needs to support themselves, and or their family.


Preservation Taking Place:

“In a December 2 ruling, Yukon Supreme Court Justice Ron Veale ruled that the Canadian territory's government did not have the authority to override a land-use plan to preserve the bulk of the 26,000-square-mile (67,000-square-kilometer) Peel Watershed region.”


  • Prevented mining in the area

  • Allowed for further conservation

  • 80% of area for wilderness, 20% for industry
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