"Through almost 60 years of regular meetings, the Prairie Provinces Water Board has demonstrated that ongoing information sharing can result in the development of a high level of trust and open communication, resulting in many positive contributions in support of interprovincial water management solutions." (International Institute for Sustainable Development, Prairie Water Strategies, December 2, 2005, p. 47)
An Evolving Mandate
Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and Canada formed the Prairie Provinces Water Board (PPWB) in 1948 to recommend the best use of interprovincial water and recommend water allocations between the provinces. This method worked well until the 1960s, when the provinces began requesting large allocations of water. Since the approach used by the Board was no longer adequate to allow long-term water planning by the provinces, a new system for sharing this limited resource was developed.
The 1969 Master Agreement on Apportionment
In 1969, the parties to the original agreement signed the Master Agreement on Apportionment. This Agreement reconstituted the intergovernmental Prairie Provinces Water Board (PPWB) whose mandate is to administer the Agreement and focus on transboundarywater issues in the Prairies. The PPWB does not have any legislative enforcement powers, but provides a forum to promote interprovincial cooperation and discuss and resolve issues amongst jurisdictions.
The Master Agreement on Apportionment has enabled the equitable sharing and protection of interprovincial streams while developing a consensus approach to preventing interprovincial surface and groundwater problems. Because of the PPWB's consensus approach, provincial governments, as the primary regulator of water supplies, have always complied with the Agreement. Therefore, the Master Agreement could be referred to as a model for dealing with interjurisdictional issues. Given the importance of water to the prairies, deciding how to share it to the satisfaction of all parties can be a difficult process. A spirit of cooperation and mutual respect have been the key ingredients in making it work.
Other key ingredients of success have made the PPWB a model of successful interjurisdictional water management. The PPWB results in a solution that works for all; the equitable sharing of water that protects water supplies and quality in the water-scarce Prairies. Provinces can flexibly manage water and plan for the long-term as they know how much water they can receive and use while still protecting surface and groundwater. Potential conflicts are avoided and resolved as decisions are made by consensus before conflicts occur. Jurisdictions have clear roles and equal power. Throughout its long history, Board Members have worked cooperatively and have mutual respect for their peers that have similar backgrounds and responsibilities.
Board Members are senior officials engaged in the administration of water resources in the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba and in the federal Departments of Environment and Agriculture and Agri-Food. Board Members report directly to the Ministers of each government department represented. The Board is supported by a Secretariat and three permanent Committees (Committee on Hydrology, Committee on Water Quality, and Committee on Groundwater).
Costs for administering the Agreement are shared equally between the Government of Canada and the Provinces (17% each). Environment Canada conducts and pays for 100% of the water quantity and quality monitoring.Top of Page
Page last modified: 15 December 2010
Sharing and Protecting Water
The Prairie Provinces Water Board is about sharing and protecting water at provincial borders that originates in the Rockies.
Tom Harrison, Saskatchewan Watershed Authority
Water flows from the Rockies and moves east across the three Prairie Provinces.
Saskatchewan Watershed Authority
Water is shared equitably and protected for human uses and the aquatic ecosystem.