An Evolving Mandate for Sharing and Protecting Water
"The most significant interjurisdictional water management arrangement in Canada is the Master Agreement on Apportionment."
1986 Pearse Inquiry on Federal Water Policy
Runoff from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains is the major water supply for the large southern rivers of the Prairie Provinces. These rivers flow eastward across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba to empty into the Hudson Bay (see map of rivers and monitoring sites). The ownership of the waters of a river system flowing through several jurisdictions can give rise to water use problems because water use within one province may impact another province.
To ensure water resources are shared fairly, the Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba and the Government of Canada created the Prairie Province Water Board in 1948. In 1969, the four governments changed how the Prairie Provinces Water Board operated by signing the Master Agreement on Apportionment (MAA). This Agreement established an intergovernmental framework to manage transboundary waters. The MAA is administered today by Environment Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Alberta Environment, Saskatchewan Watershed Authority and Manitoba Water Stewardship. The purpose of the MAA is to apportion or share water equitably between the Prairie Provinces and to protect interprovincial surface water quality and groundwater aquifers.
From the PPWB Charter, the mission of the Board is:
- To ensure that interprovincial waters are protected and equitably apportioned in accordance with the Master Agreement on Apportionment;
- To provide a forum for exchange of information in order to prevent and resolve conflicts; and
- To promote cooperation in interprovincial water management.