A Marine Transportation Services (MTS) barge. Photo: GNWT
The third and final resupply barges destined for Norman Wells and Tulita this summer have been cancelled because of “historically low” water on the Mackenzie River.
The NWT government said territorially controlled barge resupply company Marine Transportation Services has decided continuing to operate on the river was now too dangerous.
MTS is now “making alternate plans” to get cargo to the two Sahtu communities.
The GNWT said fuel is “not an issue” as Tulita’s fuel was delivered earlier in the summer and Norman Wells is supplied by the oil company that operates in the town, Imperial Oil. Diesel fuel destined for Délı̨nę will be transported by winter road in the new year.
MTS said “all other community resupply will be delivered as scheduled in the coming weeks.” Those schedules had already been rewritten once to account for low water levels throughout the river system.
Discussing the situation last month, Mayor of Norman Wells Frank Pope told Cabin Radio: “This year is the first year it’s been this bad.”
Barge resupply is vital to many NWT communities, which rely on freight arriving in Hay River then barges hauling it north along the Mackenzie River. This year, both low water and Hay River’s two wildfire-related evacuations have caused significant problems.
“Low water levels have been a challenge all year, not only for MTS, but also Coast Guard and other commercial shipping companies,” the NWT government stated.