YELLOWKNIFE, Northwest Territories — Sept. 22, 2015 — Aboriginal groups in the Northwest Territories (NWT) have expressed disappointment over a decision by the NWT government to approve a change that will almost triple the permitted level of total dissolved solids (TDS), including mineral salts, in Snap Lake, CBC News reported.

The change, approved by Environment Minister Michael Miltenberger, comes as a result of an amended water license for De Beers Canada’s Snap Lake diamond mine, noted the article.

De Beers had requested the change due to a higher than expected amount of TDS-rich groundwater at its Snap Lake mine, which is located 220 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.

The company pumps, treats and releases the groundwater into Snap Lake, but was forced to store some of that water underground to avoid going over the previous TDS limit — at a cost of at least C$20 million, stated the article. The firm had claimed its operations were under threat unless unless the TDS level was raised.

Approval of the water license changes means the total allowable level of TDS in Snap Lake is 1,000 milligrams per liter, three times the 350 milligrams per liter level allowed in April.

Aboriginal groups have called the decision “disappointing.” The Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation and the Yellowknives Dene First Nation had opposed raising the limit over fears traditional users of the land may think twice about drinking the water.

“It is always a disappointment when economic interests win out over community concerns, including those of Lutsel K’e, Dettah and N’Dilo,” commented Peter Unger, manager of wildlife, lands and environment for the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation, in the article.

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