Good news for the Peace River

The Peace River got its name after a peace treaty ended decades of conflict between the Danezaa First Nations and the Cree. The treaty ruled that the river would be the boundary between the two nations: Danezaa territory to the north and Cree territory to the south. The major tributary flows northeast from its beginnings in the Rocky Mountains through Alberta, eventually joining up with the Great Slave Lake which, in turn, feeds into the MacKenzie River. Along the way it passes through the Peace-Athabasca Delta in Wood Buffalo National Park, which as the largest inland freshwater delta in the world, was designated a Ramsar site in 1982. The Peace is surrounded by the Peace River Country, well-known in the north for its rich agricultural delta and a region of oil and gas extraction, and forestry industry.

Peace-Athabasca Delta region, Alberta, Canada.
Peace-Athabasca Delta region, Alberta, Canada. © WWF-Canada / Tony MAAS

WWF-Canada evaluated the health of the Peace River as part of our Freshwater Health Assessments. There was insufficient data available to assign a bug score. While the presence of several large dams along the river network lead to a poor hydrology score, the ‘Very Good’ water quality score and the ‘Good’ fish score lead to an overall health score of ‘Good’. This is very encouraging news for the people and ecosystems that depend on a healthy river.
There are a few development projects currently being proposed to occur along the Peace River, including Site C, a hydroelectric dam that would be located in northeastern British Columbia. WWF’s  Freshwater Health Assessments help give us a better understanding of the health of our waters and puts us in a better position to make decisions about  the trade-offs and benefits to our freshwater and energy resources. It is our hope that the results of these assessments will be used to inform decisions both in the Peace River watershed and in watersheds all over Canada.
WWF-Canada would like to thank The Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation for their support of this important work.