Water Management

NWT-Alberta Transboundary Water Agreement

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Inaugural Year: 2015-2016

The Alberta-NWT Mackenzie River Basin Bilateral Water Management Agreement was signed March 18, 2015. The Implementation Highlights report, released in March 2017, focusses on implementation activities during the inaugural year.

In November 2017, the bilateral committee responsible for implementing the Agreement released Working Together to Manage Our Shared Waters, its first annual report (along with the executive summaries in English and French).

What is the Agreement?

The NWT-Alberta Mackenzie River Basin Bilateral Water Management Agreement (English) (French) was signed by the Government of Alberta and the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) on March 18, 2015.

One of the most comprehensive agreements of its kind, it marked the conclusion of a second bilateral water agreement. The NWT and the Yukon concluded a bilateral agreement in 2002

Recently, a third bilateral agreement, the NWT-British Columbia Bilateral Water Management Agreement, was signed on October 15, 2015.

In this Agreement, the NWT and Alberta agree to be proactive and forward looking, and to facilitate joint learning that will inform bilateral water management actions on transboundary waters. Technical details related to learning, objective setting, monitoring and management actions are set out in Appendices to the Agreement (English) (French).

What are the benefits?

The Agreement between the NWT and Alberta will facilitate improved monitoring and reporting of upstream affects from development. It includes provisions to create ecosystem objectives, such as water quality and quantity and biological objectives, to maintain the ecological integrity of transboundary water ecosystems.

The GNWT is of the view that this and other Mackenzie River Basin Transboundary Water Management Agreements will:

  • be beneficial
  • provide certainty
  • better ensure waters flowing into the NWT will remain substantially unaltered in quality, quantity and rate of flow
  • promote effective transboundary water management in the NWT

What about treaty rights?

The NWT-Alberta Bilateral Water Agreement for the Mackenzie River Basin does not negatively affect any recognized or asserted Aboriginal treaty right and is intended to protect the waters upon which the exercise of rights depends.

NWT Water Stewardship Strategy and Plan for Action

The NWT Negotiation Team was heavily informed by the Northern Voices, Northern Waters: the NWT Water Stewardship Strategy (the NWT Water Strategy) and NWT Water Stewardship: A Plan for Action 2011-2015 (the Action Plan). The NWT Water Strategy was developed in collaboration with Aboriginal groups, communities, regional organizations, environmental non-government organizations, co-management boards, industry, government and residents.

More information

  • News release: Alberta and Northwest Territories announce bilateral water management agreement