To better serve site visitors, Government of Alberta ministry web content is being centralized on Webpages on this ministry site will be either relocated to or removed over the next few months. Messaging and redirects will help guide you to updated content during and after this transition. Scheduled completion date for this project is March 31, 2019. Thank you for your patience as we proceed with these changes.

Prairie Provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba)

Map of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba river basins and stations
Click to enlarge

The major elements of the Prairie Provinces water agreements include:

  • The Master Agreement on Apportionment
  • The Prairie Provinces Water Board

Master Agreement on Apportionment, 1969

On October 30, 1969, the governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and the federal government entered into the Master Agreement on Apportionment. The Master Agreement provides a formula for the sharing of the waters of eastward flowing interprovincial rivers.

The Master Agreement also reconstituted the Prairie Provinces Water Board to administer the agreement and provide a forum to resolve and report on interprovincial water issues. A Schedule on Water Quality was incorporated into the Master Agreement in 1992.

Broadly stated, the principles affecting Alberta are that Alberta must pass one-half of the volume in each eastwards flowing stream (including the North and South Saskatchewan River basins) to the Province of Saskatchewan on an annual basis. The flow is determined at agreed-upon points near the boundary of the two provinces.

This principle applies to streams flowing eastward from Alberta to Saskatchewan, but several special provisions have been included in the agreement with respect to the sharing of the waters of the South Saskatchewan River and of Battle, Middle and Lodge Creek.

Currently, apportionment monitoring is carried out for the North Saskatchewan River, South Saskatchewan River, Battle Creek, Middle Creek, Lodge Creek and Cold Lake. It is not carried out for the Beaver River, Battle River, Boxelder Creek and Eyehill Creek as Alberta's consumptive water use in these streams is not a significant proportion of the natural flow.

The Prairie Provinces Water Board (PPWB)

The primary responsibility of the PPWB is to ensure that interprovincial waters are equitably apportioned and protected in accordance with the Master Agreement on Apportionment. It also provides a forum to exchange information to prevent and resolve conflicts and to promote cooperation in interprovincial water management. The Board’s decisions are based on consensus.

The PPWB membership is comprised of one representative from each of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. It also has two representatives from the federal government (Environment Canada and the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration).

The PPWB has three main committees to undertake work:

  • Committee on Hydrology studies questions related to water quantity in the streams crossing provincial borders.
  • Committee on Water Quality coordinates the PPWB’s water monitoring program, addresses issues of water quality, and is responsible for the Water Quality Contingency Plan to inform downstream jurisdictions about spills or unusual water quality conditions.
  • Committee on Groundwater deals with issues related to the use and the quality of groundwater shared by provincial jurisdictions.

The administrative office of the PPWB is located in Regina, Saskatchewan.

More information on the PPWB is available on the Environment Canada website at:


Page Information

Updated: Dec 15, 2015