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Mackenzie River Basin Bilateral Water Management Agreements

Water moves freely across provincial and international borders. As a result, activities in one area of a watershed affect the people and the environment downstream. Transboundary agreements commit two or more jurisdictions to cooperation in the management of a shared resource, such as water.

Transboundary water agreements define objectives for water quality and quantity to be met at the border. They also outline protocols for information exchange and dispute resolution between jurisdictions to support cooperation.

Current Transboundary Water Management Agreements

Alberta currently has four transboundary water management agreements in place:

  • Boundary Waters Treaty (1909) (Section VI – St. Mary and Milk Rivers, Alberta - Montana)
  • Mackenzie River Basin Bilateral Water Management Agreement (Alberta-Northwest Territories)
  • Mackenzie River Basin Transboundary Waters Master Agreement
  • Master Agreement on Apportionment (1969) with Saskatchewan, on eastern flowing rivers

The Mackenzie River Basin Transboundary Waters Master Agreement was signed in 1997. This agreement contains high level principles for the cooperative management of the aquatic ecosystem of the Mackenzie River Basin. It also commits Alberta to developing individual bilateral water management agreements with each neighbouring jurisdiction in the Mackenzie River Basin.

On March 18, 2015 Alberta and the Northwest Territories signed an individual bilateral water agreement.

Alberta is currently developing bilateral agreements with Saskatchewan and British Columbia. The provinces and territories are responsible for the development of the water management agreements. Additional support is being provided by the federal government, who represents the Northwest Territories through Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

Project Updates


Métis Elders Knowledge Gathering Workshop was held in Paddle Prairie, Alberta on Feb. 2, 2012. The purpose of this workshop was to understand Métis uses, interests and values associated with the water and aquatic ecosystems of the Peace River watershed and Peace-Athabasca Delta.

The Transboundary Secretariat & SREM Aboriginal Affairs Branch (SAAB) also held information sessions for First Nations on the bilateral agreements. Meetings were held in Peace River and High Level on June 5-6, 2012, with First Nations representatives. The sessions provided information on the bilateral agreements, an update on the overall agreement development processes to date, and provided an opportunity for First Nations to identify their concerns and interests related to the bilaterals.

The Transboundary Secretariat also met with the Mighty Peace WPAC in March to provide an overview of the bilaterals and Site C processes.

Status of Development Process

A work plan, approved by all jurisdictions, outlines six phases of development for the agreements:

  1. Planning
  2. Learning
  3. Interests
  4. Options
  5. Negotiation
  6. Assembly

Alberta has completed a bilateral water agreement with the Northwest Territories. Alberta has completed the information sharing and interests stages and is developing and refining options with both Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

Where can I get more information?

Periodic updates on this process will continue to be provided through this website. The master agreement, guidance document and annual reports can be found below.

For more information on Alberta’s other transboundary water management agreements, please visit:


For more information about this transboundary water management agreement, contact:

  • Brian Yee
    Director, Transboundary Secretariat


Page Information

Updated: Dec 5, 2018