Water Management and Monitoring

BC-NWT Transboundary Water Agreement

BC-NWT Annual Reports

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.

BC-NWT Bilateral Management Committee

The Parties have established a Bilateral Management Committee (BMC) to administer the Agreement. A Terms of Reference for Bilateral Management Committee Members has been developed to guide the scope of work for BMC members and Technical Committee members related to classifying transboundary waters, establishing learning plans, setting, monitoring and assessing the achievement of transboundary water objectives, and providing a mechanism for information sharing, notification, and consultation. The TOR also outlines the membership, roles and responsibilities, principles of engagement, communication protocols, and decision-making structure of the BMC.

What is the Agreement?

The British Columbia-NWT Mackenzie River Basin Bilateral Water Management Agreement was signed by the Government of Alberta and the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) on October 15, 2015.

One of the most comprehensive agreements of its kind, it marked the conclusion of a third bilateral water agreement. The NWT and the Yukon concluded the NWT's first bilateral agreement in 2002, and a second bilateral agreement was signed with Alberta on March 18, 2015.

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.

What are the benefits?

The Agreement between British Columbia and the NWT will facilitate improved monitoring and reporting of upstream effects 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 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.

NWT Water Stewardship Strategy and Plan for Action

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 2016-2020 (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.