Slave River, 415 km long with an estimated mean annual flow rate in excess of 4000 cubic metres per second, connects the PEACE RIVER and the drainage from lakes CLAIRE and ATHABASCA to GREAT SLAVE LAKE, forming the short upper reaches of the Slave- MACKENZIE RIVER system in the Northwest Territories. It has a sinuous, often multichannelled, course traversing the flat, extensively glaciated Archean granitic terrain of the Canadian SHIELD and is currently used almost entirely as a transportation waterway and an important habitat for wildlife. It has a drainage area of 616 400 km2.
The Alberta government evaluated the possible construction of a major (2000 MW) hydroelectric-power dam at the Pelican Rapids near FORT SMITH, NWT. This controversial project could jeopardize nesting grounds of the white PELICAN, threaten breeding areas of the endangered WHOOPING CRANE and cause flooding in the Peace-Athabasca Delta.