Dam and canal safety – Regulatory system

This system ensures the use of best available technology and practices.


Water management and regulation of safety of dams is under the jurisdiction of the provincial governments in Canada. Until the late 1970s, none of the provinces had specific legislation that directly addressed safety of dams; however, Alberta took the lead with a proactive dam safety regulation approach in response to concerns due to failure of a number of dams around the world.

On September 19, 1978, the Government of Alberta enacted specific dam and canal safety regulation establishing the first formal dam safety regulatory program in Canada to ensure safety of the public and the environment. Since its inception, the program continues to evolve, maintaining Alberta's position as a leader in dam safety regulation.

The main purpose of Alberta's Dam Safety Regulatory System is to ensure that dams and their appurtenant hydraulic structures are designed, constructed, maintained, operated and decommissioned using best available technology (BAT) and best applicable practices (BAP).

The BAT and BAP are determined through processes that permit stakeholder and expert inputs to ensure that dam safety performance requirements and monitoring are proactive and rigorous.

Operational and strategic plans

The Dam Safety Regulator Operational Plan and Strategic Plan set out Alberta's regulatory policies and practices.

The following is a summary of key points in the plans. For full details, refer to the documents.

Coloured triangle - Mission, vision and objectives of the AEP Dam Safety Regulatory System Framework


Be a leader in advancing public safety, sustainability and environmental protection by implementing a best in class Dam Safety Regulatory System.


Ensure safety of dams and canals for public safety and to minimize environmental and economic losses through effective and efficient use of the compliance assurance programs and tools.

Objectives and goals

The objectives and goals of dam safety are shown below and reflect the robust compliance assurance programs and tools that are in place to meet the vision and mission of the Dam Safety Regulatory System. More detailed information can be found in the Strategic Plan.

Large triangle made up of smaller triangles - Dam Safety Regulatory System Objectives and Goals
  • Education
    • Awareness
    • Knowledge
    • Skills
  • Prevention
    • Emergency Preparedness/Response
    • Performance Monitoring
    • Requirements/Guidance
  • Enforcement
    • Deficiency Tracking/Follow-ups
    • Compliance Assurance/Reporting
    • Risk Management/Mitigation