Alberta and Northwest Territories released joint reporter on bilateral Management agreement

News Releases

Yellowknife — September 24, 2020

The Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Alberta are pleased to report on the outcomes of the third year of implementation of the Alberta-Northwest Territories Bilateral Water Management Agreement.

One of the most comprehensive of its kind, the Agreement between Alberta and the Northwest Territories (NWT) lays the foundation for long-term cooperative management to maintain and protect the ecological integrity of the water flowing across the Alberta-NWT border. It establishes decision-making mechanisms between the jurisdictions and commitments for monitoring of water quantity and quality, as well as biological indicators.

Today, the bilateral committee responsible for implementing the Agreement released its annual report, Working Together to Manage Our Shared Waters. The report details activities undertaken from April 2017 to March 2018, including an analysis of 2017 water quality and quantity monitoring data from the Slave and Hay rivers, which did not identify any major concerns.

The third year of the Agreement saw considerable collaboration between the governments of Alberta and the NWT to implement the Bilateral Water Management Agreement. Other highlights include:

·       Completion of two reports summarizing existing information about biological monitoring in the Hay and Slave rivers;

·       Start of a pilot program to monitor benthic macroinvertebrates in the Slave and Hay rivers;

·       Continued surface water quality and quantity monitoring and reporting;

·       Development of a report providing information about groundwater in the North; and

·       A first meeting to establish the Alberta-NWT Traditional Knowledge Working Group



“Clean and abundant 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 the collaborative efforts the Northwest Territories and Alberta are making when it comes to managing our shared waters.”

- Shane Thompson, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources (NWT)


“I am proud of ongoing commitment of both governments to co-operatively manage the shared waters of the Mackenzie River basin. Our joint efforts on several initiatives, such as water monitoring and fish sampling to determine the health of the aquatic environment, will ensure that Canada’s largest river system continues to support environmental, social and economic outcomes in both Alberta and the Northwest Territories.”

- Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks (Alberta)


Quick facts

·       The Mackenzie River Basin is the largest river system in Canada.

·       The Alberta-Northwest Territories Mackenzie River Basin Bilateral Water Management Agreement 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 signed the Mackenzie River Basin Transboundary Waters Master Agreement in 1997, committing all six governments to work together towards managing shared water resources in a sustainable manner for current and future generations.

·       Bilateral agreements provide a long‐term framework for both upstream and downstream jurisdictions to manage shared water resources and ensure that upstream jurisdictions do not unreasonably harm the aquatic ecosystem of downstream jurisdictions.


Related links

·       Working Together to Manage Our Shared Waters, 2016-2017:

o   Executive Summary

o   Full report

·       Alberta-Northwest Territories Mackenzie River Basin Bilateral Water Management Agreement

·       Alberta Environment and Parks

·       Transboundary water agreements – ENR website

·       NWT water stewardship


For more information, please contact:

Public Affairs and Communications

Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Government of the Northwest Territories