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N.W.T. reaches transboundary water agreements with Alberta, B.C.

Environment and Natural Resources Minister Michael Miltenberger says there are now agreements covering 85 per cent of the Mackenzie River basin.

85% of Mackenzie River basin now covered by agreements

Environment and Natural Resources Minister Michael Miltenberger says new water agreements with Alberta and B.C. will protect the Mackenzie Basin while allowing for development. (CBC)

The N.W.T. government says it has reached a major milestone in agreements to protect the Mackenzie River basin. 

Environment and Natural Resources Minister Michael Miltenberger says the territory finished negotiating a transboundary water agreement with Alberta this week. Earlier this year it reached a similar intentions agreement with British Columbia.

"They are ecological agreements that protect the health of the aquatic ecosystem while allowing for development by both parties," Miltenberger said in the legislature.

The Mackenzie River Basin stretches over three provinces and two territories. The basin is among the most intact large-scale ecosystems in North America, and the Mackenzie River is the largest north-flowing river in North America. (Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy)

"The Alberta and B.C. Intentions Documents also create an adaptive framework for co-operative management of transboundary waters, set out co-operative decision-making processes and create clear notification, consultation, and information-sharing requirements. With these agreements in place, we will no longer find out about upstream developments and events in the newspaper."

This means there are now agreements covering 85 per cent of the Mackenzie River basin. 

Miltenberger says they're still consulting with aboriginal governments, but the plan is to sign the agreements in February.

"We are on the verge of taking a major step towards achieving the vision we developed for the N.W.T. Water Stewardship Strategy, to develop transboundary water agreements that ensure the waters of the N.W.T. will remain clean productive and abundant for all time," he said in the legislature Thursday afternoon. 

The territory still needs to negotiate agreements with Saskatchewan, Nunavut and Yukon. 

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