Water Management

BC-NWT Transboundary Water Agreement

Inaugural Year

The British Columbia-NWT Mackenzie River Basin Bilateral Water Management Agreement was signed October 15, 2015. The Implementation Highlights report, released in November 2018, focuses on implementation activities during the inaugural years.

The Government of British Columbia and the Government of the Northwest Territories (NWT) signed the British Columbia-NWT Mackenzie River Basin Bilateral Water Management Agreement on October 15, 2015, marking the conclusion of a third comprehensive bilateral water agreement in the Mackenzie River Basin.

The NWT and the Yukon concluded a bilateral agreement in 2002, and the Alberta-NWT Bilateral Water Management Agreement was signed March 18, 2015.

The NWT Negotiation Team was heavily informed by 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 Indigenous groups, communities, regional organizations, environmental non-government organizations, co-management boards, industry, government and residents.

In this Agreement, British Columbia and the NWT 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 the Appendices to the Agreement.

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

The Agreement between British Columbia and the NWT will facilitate improved monitoring and reporting of upstream effects from development. It also 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 bilateral 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

More about Transboundary Water Management Agreements