Alberta’s Water Allocation Management System Review

Alberta’s well-established system for allocating and managing water has served the province well as it has evolved over the last century. This is reflected in the Water Act, a progressive piece of legislation that provides for environmental flows to be recognized as legitimate water users, and enables licence transfers in order to allow for water reallocation in closed basins.

However, Alberta’s growing population and economy have increased the demand for water, while a changing climate has highlighted the need to adapt and plan for future challenges. While some jurisdictions have undertaken major water allocation reform as a reaction to extreme water shortages, Alberta is in a position to proactively design and implement a renewed water allocation management system that will continue to evolve and change to meet the province’s needs for the next one hundred years.

The water allocation management system review will allow government, communities, industry and the public to explore options to better meet future water needs and support the regional outcomes developed across Alberta as part of the implementation of the Land-Use Framework under the Alberta Land Stewardship Act.

Alberta’s renewed Water for Life strategy provides the starting point, by calling for the "management and allocation of Alberta’s water in a manner that:

  • Supports sustainable economic development and the strategic priorities of the province;
  • Sustains aquatic ecosystems;
  • Ensures a contribution to Alberta’s natural capital; and
  • Ensures Albertans’ quality of life is maintained."

Specifically, Alberta needs a water allocation management system that:

  • Allows licencees to manage in times of scarcity;
  • Allow government and others to help manage the environment;
  • Allows flexibility so that water can be moved to different uses when needs and values change;
  • Provides for a competitive economy and quality of life;
  • Supports regional outcomes
  • Adapts to managing extremes (e.g.: floods, drought); and
  • Supports and encourages water conservation

Alberta Environment and& Parks' review of the water allocation management system will create a diverse suite of policy options and tools that address provincial strategic outcomes, such as those under Water for Life and Land-Use Framework. This review will also address the unique regional water challenges across Alberta.


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Updated: Dec 11, 2015