Na cho Nyak Dun to dig for heat

The Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation is drilling wells for geothermal heat despite problems with older wells in the vicinity.

The Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation is drilling wells for geothermal heat despite problems with older wells in the vicinity.

The Mayo-based First Nation will warm its new government building with pipes that channel heat from beneath the Earth’s surface. The building should cost $70,000 less a year to heat compared to the diesel boilers currently being used, said Rick Savage, an engineer and project manager for Quest Engineering Group, the company directing the project.

The Na-Cho Nyak Dun, the Yukon government and Ottawa are splitting the $2.95-million cost three ways to have the system installed. The First Nation has a 602-person membership.

Construction should begin this year and the system will be up and running by June 2011, said Savage.

A well 120 metres deep must be drilled; a well-house must be constructed and the distribution system throughout the building must be installed. Quest will soon put out tenders for each of the three tasks, said Savage.

Quest was hired to build the government building between 2007 and 2009 and prepped it for a geothermal heating system. A test well near the building was drilled in the last couple of years, said Savage.

The building is just outside Mayo. But in Mayo proper, officials have had harder luck with geothermal energy.

In 1975, a geothermal well was built to heat municipal buildings in the village. Another well was built in 1990. Both were aimed to loosen Mayo’s dependence on fossil fuels, but have barely lived up to potential.

A 2005 report by Gartner Lee revealed the wells, which are only used in winter, need a major rehabilitation program to expand their use.

“The groundwater is highly mineralized, which over time, leads to a combination of corrosive and mineral-encrusting (scaling) related issues,” says the report. The mineralization stands as a “major challenge” in the face of plans to rehabilitate the wells.

And, “based on a detailed review of the available historical draw down data, it appears pumping levels in both wells dropped off significantly within the first year or two after production started,” it says.

The Energy Solutions Centre is still currently looking at expanding the wells in town, according to the centre’s website.

Whitehorse bumped plans to heat its yet-to-be-completed Whistle Bend subdivision in January after wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on studies.

The city decided to put off any geothermal work until future phases of the subdivision, which are decades away.

City officials didn’t give engineers the right parameters when they commissioned a $241,000 study in 2009, Kinden Kosick, a planner with the city, said in January.

Contact James Munson at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley gives a COVID-19 update during a press conference in Whitehorse on May 26. The Yukon government announced two new cases of COVID-19 in the territory with a press release on Oct. 19. (Alistair Maitland Photography)
Two new cases of COVID-19 announced in Yukon

Contact tracing is complete and YG says there is no increased risk to the public

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on April 8. Yukon Energy faced a potential “critical” fuel shortage in January due to an avalanche blocking a shipping route from Skagway to the Yukon, according to an email obtained by the Yukon Party and questioned in the legislature on Oct. 14. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Energy faced ‘critical’ fuel shortage last January due to avalanche

An email obtained by the Yukon Party showed energy officials were concerned

Jeanie McLean (formerly Dendys), the minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate speaks during legislative assembly in Whitehorse on Nov. 27, 2017. “Our government is proud to be supporting Yukon’s grassroots organizations and First Nation governments in this critical work,” said McLean of the $175,000 from the Yukon government awarded to four community-based projects aimed at preventing violence against Indigenous women. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government gives $175k to projects aimed at preventing violence against Indigenous women

Four projects were supported via the Prevention of Violence against Aboriginal Women Fund

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone

When I was a kid, CP Air had a monopoly on flights… Continue reading

EDITORIAL: Don’t let the City of Whitehorse distract you

A little over two weeks after Whitehorse city council voted to give… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Northwestel has released the proposed prices for its unlimited plans. Unlimited internet in Whitehorse and Carcross could cost users between $160.95 and $249.95 per month depending on their choice of package. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet options outlined

Will require CRTC approval before Northwestel makes them available

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse. Yukon’s territorial government will sit for 45 days this sitting instead of 30 days to make up for lost time caused by COVID-19 in the spring. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Legislative assembly sitting extended

Yukon’s territorial government will sit for 45 days this sitting. The extension… Continue reading

Today’s mailbox: Mad about MAD

Letters to the editor published Oct. 16, 2020

Alkan Air hangar in Whitehorse. Alkan Air has filed its response to a lawsuit over a 2019 plane crash that killed a Vancouver geologist on board, denying that there was any negligence on its part or the pilot’s. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Alkan Air responds to lawsuit over 2019 crash denying negligence, liability

Airline filed statement of defence Oct. 7 to lawsuit by spouse of geologist killed in crash

Whitehorse city council members voted Oct. 13 to decline an increase to their base salaries that was set to be made on Jan. 1. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Council declines increased wages for 2021

Members will not have wages adjusted for CPI

A vehicle is seen along Mount Sima Road in Whitehorse on May 12. At its Oct. 13 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the third reading for two separate bylaws that will allow the land sale and transfer agreements of city-owned land — a 127-square-metre piece next to 75 Ortona Ave. and 1.02 hectares of property behind three lots on Mount Sima Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Whitehorse properties could soon expand

Land sale agreements approved by council

Most Read