Water Act

Starting March 29, 2014, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) will accept Water Act applications and regulatory submissions associated with Water Act approval conditions previously submitted to Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development.

  • All licence fees will be set to zero.
  • PDF-formatted submissions will be required (i.e., no more paper document submission)

The Water Act focuses on managing and protecting Alberta's water and on streamlining administrative processes.

Authorizations Process

All applications under the Water Act should be sent directly to the regulator via e-mail to EPEA.WA.Applications@aer.ca.

Applications should be carefully completed and include information about the location of the activity, capacity and size of the diversion or activity, the nature of the diversion or activity, and an account of any public consultation undertaken or proposed by the applicant. To assist applicants, guides have been developed listing detailed requirements for specific kinds of activities. The regulator has the ability to waive any requirements that do not apply to a proposed project.

Applicants interested in obtaining a temporary diversion licence are asked to please continue to use the online system: Water Act Temporary diversion licence Electronic Review System (WATERS)

Other temporary diversion licence related inquiries or documents are to be submitted to TDL.Applications@aer.ca    

Notice requirements
Public involvement is a key component of Water Act application processes. Under section 31 of the Responsible Energy Development Act (REDA), the AER must provide public notice of all applications.

Further, anyone who believes they may be directly and adversely affected by an application may file a statement of concern to the AER. All filed statements of concern are addressed by the AER and industry prior to moving ahead with their proposed energy activity.

A Water Act application review determines whether the specified activity's impacts on the environment, or other water users, are in accordance with the act and associated regulations and policies.

To complete a review, the AER may request additional information and ask the applicant to hold public information meetings or address statements of concern.

Post-review, the regulator decides whether a Water Act licence, preliminary certificate, or approval will be issued and under what conditions.

Following the decision, a notice of decision is provided to the applicant (or approval holder) and to those parties who filed statements of concern.

Some decisions of the AER are eligible for regulatory appeal. Section 36 of the REDA describes what types of decisions may be appealed, and who is eligible to file a request for regulatory appeal. The filing requirements for a request for regulatory appeal, including form, content, and time limits, are set out in section 30 of the AER's Rules of Practice.

Additional information

Changes to approvals, licences, or preliminary certificates
An applicant is able to apply for an amendment to an approval/licence/ preliminary certificate at any time.

The director, the person who has the authority to make the decision, has the ability to amend an authorization as per the provisions of the Water Act.

All amendments and changes to an activity are subject to the authorizations process.

Most amendments are subject to public notice, statement of concern, approval, and appeal process.

Suspension and cancellation
It is possible to suspend or cancel a licence, preliminary certificate, or approval upon request from an approval holder, on the AER's initiative, or through an enforcement order. 

Monitoring & Reporting Information Management
The AER and ESRD have recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) addressing the management of monitoring and reporting information conditioned as part of a Water Act authorization. This agreement has been established to ensure the continued collection of monitoring and reporting information and the seamless continuation of data management practices during this regulatory transition. This agreement sets out the specific data management services that both ESRD and AER will provide following proclamation.

As part of the MOU, ESRD will continue to collect monitoring and reporting information submitted as a condition of a Water Act authorization on behalf of the AER. ESRD will also continue to provide support to industry on data submission processes and will continue to interact with industry on behalf of the AER for any additional inquiries specific to monitoring and reporting submissions covered by the MOU.

The AER reserves the right to provide final direction on any and all monitoring and reporting inquiries or issues under their mandate. Contravention reporting under the Water Act will be unaffected by the portions of the MOU on data management. Contraventions will continue to be reported to either ESRD or AER for activities under their respective mandates.

Authorization Viewer
This helpful tool is available to the public and allows users to view AER and ESRD authorizations issued under the Water Act.

Water Act: Allocation of Water
The Water Act is a legislative tool that supports and promotes the conservation and management of water in Alberta. The Water Act regulates the diversion of water from surface and groundwater sources by a variety of methods including statutory rights for household purposes, registrations for traditional agriculture uses, and licences. Under certain circumstances, the Water Act may allow for certain diversions to be exempt from licensing requirements (e.g., firefighting). These exemptions are specified in the Water (Ministerial) Regulation.

Licensing Requirements
Under the Water Act, a licence is required for the use of water for energy development.

Water allocation transfer under a licence
Water licences may be transferred, subject to the provisions of the Water Act.

Dam Safety     
Regulation of dams in Canada is a provincial/territorial responsibility. Dam safety regulatory requirements may apply for dike or dam structures, as specified in Part 6 of the Water(Ministerial) Regulation. For further information, see the Canadian Dam Association’s Dam Regulation in Canada, 2010. The Canadian Dam Association was formed in the 1980s to provide a national forum for regulators and dam operators to assist in evaluating the safety of dams within their respective jurisdictions.