Alberta and Northwest Territories Release First Joint Report on Bilateral Water Agreement

News Releases

YELLOWKNIFE (November 21, 2017) – The Government of Alberta and the Government of the Northwest Territories are pleased to report on the outcomes of the first year of implementation of the Alberta-Northwest Territories Transboundary Water Management Agreement to maintain the ecological integrity of our shared waters.

Working Together to Manage Our Shared Waters, released today, is the inaugural annual report of the bilateral committee responsible for implementing the Agreement.

One of the most comprehensive of its kind, this historic agreement lays the foundation for long-term cooperative management of the water shared between Alberta and the NWT. It establishes decision-making mechanisms between the jurisdictions, and joint monitoring of water quantity and quality, as well as biological indicators.

The first year of implementation (2015-2016) saw substantial progress towards expanding our understanding of the Slave and Hay river basins. Other highlights include:

  • Establishment of a Bilateral Management Committee, which includes representatives from Alberta and the NWT (including an Aboriginal member)
  • Reporting on the state of knowledge for the Hay River Basin and groundwater knowledge in transboundary regions of the Mackenzie River Basin, NWT
  • Assessment of 2015 water quality and quantity data for the Slave and Hay rivers
  • Review of traditional knowledge research in the Hay and Slave river basins
  • Establishment of emergency response protocols and processes to give each jurisdiction prior notification of proposed development and activities


“Protecting the integrity of our waters in the Northwest Territories is critical to ensuring they remain clean, abundant and productive for all time. The information provided in this joint report on the first year of the Agreement will help us make informed and proactive decisions when it comes to managing our waters.”
- Robert C. McLeod, NWT Minister of Environment and Natural Resources

“I’m proud to join my colleague Minister McLeod from the Northwest Territories as we release Working Together to Manage Our Shared Waters. This annual report captures the shared co-operation between Alberta and the Northwest Territories to effectively manage our shared water resources and ensure the long-term health of the Mackenzie River Basin.”
- Shannon Phillips, Alberta Minister of Environment and Parks

Quick Facts

  • The Alberta-Northwest Territories Mackenzie River Basin Bilateral Water Management Agreement was signed on March 18, 2015. It is the second in a series of bilateral agreements to manage water in the Mackenzie Basin, the largest river system in Canada.
  • Five provincial and territorial jurisdictions share the Mackenzie River Basin, each with its own legal and regulatory framework. As the ultimate downstream jurisdiction, much of the Northwest Territories’ water resources are influenced by management decisions in upstream jurisdictions.
  • To promote a cooperative approach to water management, the Governments of Canada, NWT, 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 to 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.
  • To date, three bilateral agreements have been signed between Mackenzie River Basin neighbouring jurisdictions, including the NWT‐Alberta Bilateral Agreement.

Relevant Links


Media Inquiries

Dawn Curtis
Manager, Public Affairs and Communications
Environment and Natural Resources
Government of the Northwest Territories

Robb Aishford
Press Secretary, Office of Minister Shannon Phillips
Minister of Environment and Parks
Phone: 780-641-9846