Frequently Asked Questions

The Nunavut Water Board receives numerous queries.  The following are some of the more common, accompanied by answers.


Q. Does the NWB have jurisdiction over the ocean?

A. Not as a regulator. The NWB's regulatory jurisdiction is limited to inland fresh water which includes lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, ground water, etc. and does not include marine areas.

However, the NWB has advisory functions over marine areas in Nunavut either on its own or jointly as a member of the Nunavut Marine Council with the other Institutions of Public Government.

For more on the Nunavut Marine Council, visit this page.

Q. Does the NWB have jurisdiction over the entire territory of Nunavut?

A. Yes, the jurisdiction of the NWB extends to the whole territory of Nunavut (except national parks), including Inuit-owned lands where additional provisions also apply.

Q. What is the relationship between the NWB, the NPC, and the NIRB?

A. Before processing any water application, the NWB must first refer it to NPC, who will verify that it is in conformity with an approved land use plan. Classes of applications that are subject to a public hearing (Type A) must then undergo a screening (except in the case of a municipality) and in some cases a review, after which the NWB is then authorized to issue a Type "A" water licence.

The three agencies mentionned above - often referred to as IPGs - cooperate and coordinate their efforts in the review, screening, and processing of water applications to avoid duplication and to ensure that they are dealt with in a timely fashion.

Licensing Process

Q. Do individuals need to have a water licence for their own camp?

A. No. Approvals of the NWB are not required for domestic or personal use, fishing, swimming, navigation, firefighting, or flood control during an emergency.

Q. Who needs to have a water licence?

A. All uses of water and disposal of waste into water, with the exception of domestic or emergency use, require NWB approval. This includes municipal activities, mining exploration activities, mining operations, camps, etc.

Q. Are all applications subject to a public hearing?

A. No. Certain classes of project are exempt from the requirement of a public hearing and are authorized under a Type "B" water licence.  Other uses of water may be authorized by the Board by way of an Authorized Use without a License if the application meets certain criteria as provided for in the Nunavut Water Regulations.

Those projects which are exempt from environmental assessment can often be dealt with summarily by the NWB. However, the NWB retains the power to hold a hearing on any application where satisfied that it would be in the public interest to do so. Other classes of projects are subject to a public hearing and are authorized by a Type "A" water licence.  The latter can only be issued by the NWB after the completion of an environmental assessment under Article 12 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

Q. What is the definition of "use of water"?

A. In relation to waters, means a direct or indirect use of any kind, including, but not limited to: (a) any use of water power and geothermal resources; (b) any diversion or obstruction of waters; (c) any alteration of flow of waters; and (d) any alteration of the bed or banks of a river, stream, lake, or other body of water, whether or not the body of water is seasonal.

However, it does not include navigation or any other use connected with shipping activities that are governed by the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.

Q. Does taking water samples for research qualify as use of water?

A. Yes. The removal of any quantity of water from a source means that quantity is no longer available, if even for a short time, to any other authorized user of the same water body.

Q. What is the difference between a Type A, a Type B and an Approval Without A Licence?

A. For more information, please visit this page on our site.

Q. What is the Coordinated Process?

A. For more information, please visit this page on our site.

Q. What is the licensing process, and how long does each step typically take?

A. For more information, please visit this page on our site.

Q. How long does it take to obtain a water licence?

A. The process may take between six (6) weeks to more than a year, depending on the scope and magnitude of the application, and whether it will require an environmental assessment before a licence can be issued by the NWB.

Q. To whom do I make the cheque payable for water fees owed or other administrative charges requested by the NWB?

A. All cheques are made payble to "Receiver General for Canada".