Ground Water Canada

Alberta and N.W.T. release first report on joint water agreement

November 27, 2017  By Ground Water Canada

Nov. 27, 2017, Yellowknife – Alberta and the Northwest Territories have reported progress towards expanding understanding the Slave and Hay river basins after the first year of implementation of their joint transboundary water agreement.

The purpose of the Alberta-Northwest Territories Transboundary Water Management Agreement is to maintain the ecological integrity of shared waters. Entitled “Working Together to Manage Our Shared Waters” it is the first annual report of its bilateral committee.

The historic agreement lays the foundation for long-term co-operative management of the water shared between Alberta and the Northwest Territories and establishes decision-making mechanisms between the jurisdictions, and joint monitoring of water quantity and quality, as well as biological indicators, the N.W.T. government said in a news release.


The first year of implementation (2015-16) saw substantial progress towards expanding understanding the Slave and Hay river basins.

The report details on the state of knowledge for the Hay River Basin and ground water knowledge in transboundary regions of the Mackenzie River Basin, N.W.T.

Other highlights include establishment of a Bilateral Management Committee, which includes representatives from Alberta and the NWT (including an Aboriginal member); assessment of 2015 water quality and quantity data for the Slave and Hay rivers; and the establishment of emergency response protocols and processes to give each jurisdiction prior notification of proposed development and activities.

It also includes a review of traditional knowledge research in the Hay and Slave river basin.

Quick Facts

  • The Alberta-Northwest Territories Mackenzie River Basin Bilateral Water Management Agreement was signed on March 18, 2015. It is the second in a series of bilateral agreements to manage water in the Mackenzie Basin, the largest river system in Canada.
  • Five provincial and territorial jurisdictions share the Mackenzie River Basin, each with its own legal and regulatory framework. As the ultimate downstream jurisdiction, much of the Northwest Territories’ water resources are influenced by management decisions in upstream jurisdictions.
  • To promote a cooperative approach to water management, the governments of Canada, N.W.T., Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan signed the Mackenzie River Basin Transboundary Waters Master Agreement in 1997, committing all six governments to work together towards managing shared water resources in a sustainable manner for current and future generations.
  • Bilateral agreements provide a long‐term framework to both upstream and downstream jurisdictions to manage shared water resources and ensure that upstream jurisdictions do not unreasonably harm the aquatic ecosystem of downstream jurisdictions.
  • To date, three bilateral agreements have been signed between Mackenzie River Basin neighbouring jurisdictions, including the N.W.T.‐Alberta Bilateral Agreement.

Print this page


Stories continue below