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.

Water Management in Alberta - Options to Access Water in a Closed Basin

There are opportunities to make the best use of the large amount of water that has already been allocated in closed basins or sub-basins:

  • Mechanisms such as water allocation transfers to enable the re-distribution of water allocations through voluntary actions of licence holders; and
  • Innovation and creativity of water users to improve water use conservation, efficiency and productivity (e.g., reduction of water loss from leaking pipes and canals; reusing and recycling water).

Water allocation transfers

Alberta's Water Act allows the transfer of the right to divert a volume of water from a source of water supply, under a certain priority. This type of transfer is voluntary, and involves two willing parties.

Water allocation transfers enable water users to manage their own risk in times of scarcity; allow new users to access water allocations in a "closed" basin; and, provide incentives for water conservation among existing water users.

The Government of Alberta manages the transfer process through a number of control mechanisms. These require that transfers must first be authorized in an approved water management plan or through an order of Cabinet. A transfer application must be reviewed by the Government of Alberta, which can withhold a percentage of the transferred water to fulfill water conservation objectives.

Water allocation transfers were implemented in the South Saskatchewan River Basin (SSRB) in 2003, in response to limited water supplies. An approved water management plan was required before any transfers could be authorized in the SSRB and over 30 have been completed since then.


Page Information

Updated: Jan 9, 2015