Water Management Agreements

Last updated on August 30, 2022

British Columbia works with other jurisdictions to manage and protect common water resources.

Mackenzie River Basin 

The Mackenzie River Basin Board was established under the Mackenzie River Basin Transboundary Waters Master Agreement between the Government of Canada, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon and Northwest Territories. The Board acts to carry out the purposes of the Master Agreement.

Bilateral Water Management Agreements (BWMAs) are progressive agreements made in support of achieving the terms of the Mackenzie River Basin Transboundary Waters Master Agreement. Bilateral Water Management Agreements define how provincial and territorial governments will work together to manage transboundary waters in the region.

The Master Agreement makes provisions for seven BWMAs between neighbouring jurisdictions. Three of the BWMAs involve B.C.:

Completed and approved in October 2015 and March 2017, the British Columbia–Northwest Territories BWMA and the British-Columbia–Yukon BWMA include management principles to maintain ecological integrity of the aquatic ecosystem for all shared groundwater and surface water crossings between jurisdictions within the Mackenzie River Basin. The Agreements set clear ground rules for how the B.C. and territorial governments will manage shared waters through commitments to water quality, quantity and aquatic ecosystem health at the transboundary crossings, and how they will make future water management decisions.

BWMA Implementation Progress

Since 2018, the governments of British Columbia and the Northwest Territories continue to advance implementation of the BC NWT Transboundary Water Management Agreement.

Since 2019, the governments of British Columbia and the Yukon have continued to advance implementation of the BC Yukon Transboundary Water Management Agreement. 

Importantly, Indigenous members from British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon have been participating in the implementation of the agreements. Indigenous members fulfill an important role in contributing traditional knowledge, sharing local experience, and identifying interests related to managing and monitoring transboundary waters.

Abbotsford-Sumas Aquifer

A bilateral water management agreement exists between B.C. and Washington State in the U.S. to coordinate efforts to protect the Abbotsford-Sumas aquifer across the common border between Canada and the United States.