Water Management and Monitoring

Water stewardship in the NWT


People in the Northwest Territories want the territory’s water resources to be kept clean, abundant and productive for all time.

There are many pressures on waterways. Some examples include:

  • Climate change
  • Mining
  • Oil and gas
  • Human settlements and activities

These pressures don’t start at our borders. We also need to think about the waters that flow into the NWT from upstream jurisdictions such as British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Addressing these pressures and meeting people’s expectations means:  

  • Governments and residents working together to protect and sustain our water and aquatic ecosystems.
  • Observing water and aquatic ecosystems closely for changes.
  • Holding ourselves, and others, accountable for any negative effects.

Water Stewardship Strategy

Northern Voices, Northern Waters: NWT Water Stewardship Strategy (Water Strategy), released in 2010 and updated in 2018, is the foundation for collaboratively addressing the pressures on the territory’s waters. This document lays out a clear path to bring all levels of government, agencies and the public together to maintain our waters.


In 2008, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) and the Government of Canada started working with representatives from Indigenous governments to develop a water stewardship strategy. 

Regulatory boards, non-governmental organizations, industry, academic institutions and the general public were also involved in the process.

While the Water Strategy encourages action, it does not affect existing or asserted Aboriginal rights, treaty rights or land, resource and self-government agreements. If there is any dispute between the Water Strategy and Aboriginal rights or agreements, the original rights or agreements will be upheld.

Visit the NWT Water Stewardship website for more information.

Action Plan


The NWT Water Stewardship Strategy Action Plan 2021-2025 builds on the momentum of the previous two action plans (2011-2015 and 2016-2020), and continues to put the NWT Water Stewardship Strategy into motion.


The action plan sets clear actions under four components of water stewardship: 

  • Working together: collaborating to share information and build strong partnerships. 
  • Know and plan: learning more about the changing realities of NWT’s waters – and using that information to inform our efforts. 
  • Use responsibly: actions ensuring water managers have the information necessary to make well-reasoned decisions. 
  • Check our progress: reporting regularly to make sure we are on the right track.

Actions within these components will help foster a future where waters are wisely stewarded to meet the territory’s environmental, social, and economic goals over the long term.


This plan was built collaboratively with many water partners who all play a role in water stewardship. Water partners include: 

  • Indigenous governments and organizations 
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Federal and territorial governments
  • Regulatory boards
  • NWT communities
  • Academics
  • Industry

A report is available on what we heard during the engagement process and what we did to address comments in the new action plan. 


The Action Plan will be subject to ongoing review and evaluation to ensure its implementation continues to advance the intent of the Water Strategy. Regular status updates will be published to track and report on progress.

Reference Documents