Albertans depend on us to make sure that the energy resource industry is using Alberta’s precious water resources safely and responsibly.
The Water Act is provincial legislation that supports and promotes the conservation and management of water in Alberta. Under the Responsible Energy Development Act, we are responsible for reviewing Water Act applications and submissions related to Alberta’s energy resource industry.
What We Regulate Under the Act
We ensure that companies use and manage water safely by
- reviewing energy resource applications that relate to the Water Act;
- issuing water approvals for energy resource activities that occur in or near water bodies, including wetlands;
- issuing water licences and temporary diversion licences for energy resource operations that require water;
- requiring companies to have a licence before using surface water and groundwater; and
- allocating the amount of water companies can use.
If we find a company is not following regulations under the Water Act, we will enforce compliance using various tools.
Read our fact sheet for more information about how we regulate energy development under the Water Act.
What We Don’t Regulate
Our Water Act responsibilities are specific to energy resource development. Decisions around water use for other purposes, including municipalities, agriculture, and forestry, are made by Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP).
Who Monitors Water Use
Companies must monitor and report their water use and management, including rate of flow, water levels in lakes, water temperature, and dissolved oxygen concentration. We may also ask companies to ensure that appropriately sized fish screens are in place on water intake pipes to protect fish and fish eggs.
Companies are also responsible for cleaning up water spills. Clean-up requirements are set out in the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and the Water Act.
Submit an Application
Companies must submit water approval and approval amendment applications through OneStop.
Companies must submit temporary diversion licence applications through AEP’s Water Act Temporary diversion license Electronic Review System (WATERS).
Companies must submit approval, licence, and applications (or amendments) under the Water Act to EPEA.WA.Applications@aer.ca. Applications must be in PDF format and should include
- the activity’s location;
- the diversion or activity’s capacity and size;
- type of diversion or activity;
- the requested water amount, based on present and reasonable need; and
- an account of any public consultation carried out or proposed by the applicant.
Our supporting forms and guides for specific activities, listed below, should be used to build a submission. We may waive requirements that do not apply to a proposed project.
- We share all applications on our Public Notice of Application page to encourage public participation in the approval process.
- Anyone who believes they may be directly and adversely affected by an application can file a statement of concern (SOC). If we receive an SOC, it may take us longer to process the application.
- We will assign the application to a subject matter expert for initial review. If information is missing (i.e., the application is not complete), we will close the application. Otherwise, we will proceed with a full technical review.
- We consider potential impacts to the surrounding environment, such as the aquatic ecosystem and hydrology, and other water users. We also consider the amount of water that is available in the water source.
- We may request additional information (through a supplemental information request) to complete our technical review.
- We will decide to approve, close, or deny the application. If we close it, the applicant may reapply without prejudice. If we deny it, the applicant can file an appeal through our appeal process.
- Following our review, if we approve the application, we will issue a Water Act licence, preliminary certificate, or approval with conditions. If we issue a licence, we will allocate how much water the company can withdraw.
- We will provide the applicant with a link to the letter with our decision, which is accessible for 30 days through the Integrated Application Registry. We will also share our decision on our Publication of Decision page.
Transfers, Suspensions, and Cancellations
A company that wants to transfer an allocation of water must review the requirements and submit an application as set out in section 81 of the Water Act.
We have the authority to suspend or cancel a licence, preliminary certificate, temporary diversion licence, or approval.
Companies must submit certain applications and notifications for activities that require our approval under the Water Act through OneStop. Companies are asked to follow these forms, guides, and codes of practice when applying for energy activities under the act.
- Application under the Water Act for Approval and/or Licences (For licence applications under the Water Act only)
- Application Form for Transfer of Water Allocation [DOC]
- Certificate of Completion [PDF]
- Temporary Surface Water Pipeline Information Form [PDF]
Guides and Supporting Information
- Government of Alberta Water for Life strategy
- Gas Sampling Requirements for Baseline Water-Well Testing for Coalbed Methane / Natural Gas in Coal Operations [PDF]
- Groundwater Information Letter 1/2010: Clarification of the Method Used to Determine Total Dissolved Solids for Regulatory Purposes in Alberta [PDF]
- Groundwater Protection and Coalbed Methane Development [PDF]
- Standard for Baseline Water-Well Testing for Coalbed Methane / Natural Gas in Coal Operations [PDF]
- Water Act: Upstream Oil and Gas Activity in and near a Water Body Facts At Your Fingertip [PDF]
- Water and Oil: An Overview of the Use of Water for Enhanced Oil Recovery in Alberta [PDF]
- Water Conservation and Allocation Guideline for Oilfield Injection [PDF]
- Water Management Framework: Instream Flow Needs and Water Management System for the Lower Athabasca River [PDF]
Codes of Practice
Some activities present a lower level of environmental risk and impact. As a result, standard requirements and operating practices are set out in codes of practice. The codes require companies to submit a notification instead of a Water Act application.
The following codes of practice require notification to be submitted through OneStop:
- Code of Practice for the Temporary Diversion of Water for Hydrostatic Testing of Pipelines
- Notification form [PDF]
- Code of Practice for Pipelines and Telecommunication Lines Crossing a Water Body