+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 4-10S

Amend Statutes to Permit Interbasin Water Transfers to Rural Communities

January 1, 2010
Expiry Date:
March 31, 2013
Active Status:
County of Thorhild
3 - Pembina River
Intent Not Met
Vote Results:

WHEREAS high quality potable water is an essential requirement for rural development in Alberta; and WHEREAS it is economically efficient to distribute potable water via regional waterlines from centralized treatment facilities to small towns and hamlets in Alberta; and WHEREAS several communities close to centralized treatment facilities are located in a different river basin; and WHEREAS a statute of the Alberta Legislature is required to allow these communities to be connected to a regional water treatment plant outside the communities river basin, which is costly and time consuming;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the provincial government to amend existing statutes and regulations to easier enable these communities to be connected to regional water treatment plants located outside of the river basin where the community is located.

Member Background:

The Province and Alberta is promoting centralized water treatment plants throughout Alberta and sending potable water to small neighbouring communities through the Water for Life program. Sometimes two communities near each other are in different river basins and potable water delivery is delayed while the legislation is being passed. The original reason a provincial law was required was to prevent large scale water diversion to the US, which was controversial at one time. It was not meant to prevent small transfers of treated water from one neighbouring town to another. The County of Thorhild is certainly aware of concerns over large-scale interbasin transfers of water and/or wastewater. A ceiling on the total volume of interbasin transfers per year could be established to alleviate concerns.

RMA Background:

Proposed Resolution 5-10S (Awaiting Vote): THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the provincial government to amend existing statutes and regulations to allow regional water and wastewater pipelines to be located and routed using the Surface Rights Board as a resolution process as it is in the petroleum industry.

Government Response:

Alberta Environment recognizes the value and supports the concept of regional systems that provide drinking water and wastewater services.  We will consider amending our current legislation to improve its flexibility and ability to provide inter-basin transfers during Alberta Environment’s review of the water management allocation system.


The Government of Alberta initially responded by indicating that this resolution would be considered in the water allocation system review, however, this review was delayed in 2010 due to political circumstances. The Government of Alberta initiated a series of water consultations in February 2013, labeled as “water conversations”, in which the issue of water allocation was discussed. The water conversations wrapped up at the end of March and it is anticipated that the Government will share a “what we heard’ document highlighting issues discussed during those consultations. The status of this resolution will remain unsatisfactory and the AAMDC will continue to advocate on this issue.

Provincial Ministries:
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development
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