The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) and the Government of Alberta are pleased to report on the implementation of the Bilateral Water Management Agreement between Alberta and the Northwest Territories.
One of the most comprehensive of its kind, the agreement between Alberta and the Northwest Territories (NWT) lays the foundation for long-term cooperation and shared management under which we aim to protect the ecological integrity of the water that crosses the Alberta-Northwest Territories border. . The agreement establishes a joint learning framework that will inform bilateral water management actions on transboundary waters, including commitments to monitor water quantity, quality and biological indicators.
Today, the Bilateral Management Committee responsible for administering and reporting on the Agreement released its annual report, Working Together to Manage Our Shared Waters. The report details activities undertaken from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2020.
Highlights of the report include:
- Ongoing monitoring of benthic macroinvertebrates in the Slave and Hay rivers.
- A new fish health monitoring program in the Slave River.
- Ongoing surface water quality and quantity monitoring and reporting.
- Continuation of groundwater studies to increase understanding of shared groundwater in Alberta and the Northwest Territories.
- Completed a comprehensive review of existing frameworks and best practices regarding the use of traditional knowledge in decision-making.
Main takeaways include:
- Water flows were slightly below average in the Slave River in 2018 and 2019.
- Water flows were below average in the Hay River in 2018 and well below average in 2019.
- Water consumption, under Alberta Water Act licenses, was less than 2% of the natural flow of the Hay River for all months of 2018 and 2019.
- Alkalinity and dissolved magnesium showed slight increasing trends in the Slave River; similar trends were observed in the Peace River, but not in the Athabasca River.
- The presence of human-made, toxic, bioaccumulative and persistent substances in the Slave and Hay rivers was found to be very low – and below levels that could harm aquatic life.
“Clean, plentiful water is essential to the physical, social, cultural and economic well-being of all residents of the Northwest Territories. This agreement represents a cooperative approach to water management between our two jurisdictions. The information provided in this joint report highlights our collaborative efforts with Alberta in managing our shared waters.
- Shane Thompson, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources (NWT)
“The bilateral management agreement between Alberta and the Northwest Territories paves the way for the cooperative management of our shared water resources. I am pleased that this report shows that the agreement is working as intended to protect the ecological integrity of the water that crosses the Alberta-Northwest Territories border and that both parties are doing their part to ensure the sustainability of our precious water resources for future generations. ”
- Whitney Issik, Minister of Environment and Parks (Alberta)
- The Mackenzie River Basin is the largest river system in Canada.
- The Bilateral Water Management Agreement between Alberta and the Northwest Territories was signed on March 18, 2015.
- To promote a cooperative approach to water management, the governments of Canada, Northwest Territories, Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan have signed the Framework Agreement on Transboundary Waters of the Mackenzie River Basin in 1997, committing the six governments to work together to manage shared water resources. sustainably for present and future generations.
- Bilateral agreements provide a long-term framework for upstream and downstream jurisdictions to manage shared water resources in a way that maintains the ecological integrity of the aquatic ecosystem.
Working together to manage our shared waters, 2018-2020:
- Summary report
- Technical reports
- A review of traditional knowledge frameworks for decision-making under bilateral water agreements
For media inquiries, please contact:
Manager, Communications and Public Affairs
Environment and natural resources
Government of the Northwest Territories