There are about 25,000 water licences in Alberta. The province now has an easy-to-use digital system that lets users report on water use and manage their licence through a confidential online tool. However, many water licences issued before November 2021 still report in using older electronic and paper-based systems that are slow and hard to track.

The Alberta government is asking all Albertans with water licences issued before November 2021 to move them into the online system by the end of this year. This will help licence holders save time and help the province understand how much water is available during a severe drought.  

“In 2024, we can’t have a system that relies on papers, faxes and other methods to manage water licences and track Alberta’s water use. I want to thank all the water licence holders for helping us by moving their licence to the digital system as quickly as possible. It’ll save you time and effort and help us make every drop count this year.”

Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Environment and Protected Areas

Alberta’s Digital Regulatory Assurance System is a secure and 100 per cent confidential online platform. It helps licence holders submit reports, apply for renewals or amendments, receive email reminders and track their status. Alberta Environment and Protected Areas uses this information to help water managers and users make important decisions on how to manage the drought.

“Moving into the digital system will make your license quicker and easier for you to manage and help us keep track of how much water is available in Alberta. As we face the risk of severe drought, I’m asking all irrigators and water licence holders to make the time to move their licence as soon as they can.”

RJ Sigurdson, Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation

“I’m glad we have worked with Environment and Protected Areas to move the water license system to a simplified and modern digital system. This is part of our commitment to making Alberta the most innovative jurisdiction in Canada and deliver better, faster and smarter services for Albertans.”

Nate Glubish, Minister of Technology and Innovation

The digital system will provide a faster and better experience for water licence holders, who will be able to easily access and view licence records. Applying for new licences or renewals will become much quicker, and it will be easier to submit and track incident notifications. Overall, the system provides easy access to important information that licence holders need to manage their licences.

Moving a licence into the digital system does not change or replace the original licence in any way. There is absolutely no change to the licence priority number. All information submitted through the digital system will continue to be kept strictly confidential.

Quick facts

  • Water licences issued under the Water Act and precedent legislation, such as the Water Resources Act, must move to the Digital Regulatory Assurance System (DRAS).
  • DRAS has been accepting applications for Water Act licences and other types of water authorizations, such as codes of practice, since 2021.
  • Any water licences issued under the Water Act before November 2021 must be moved by December 31, 2024. That includes all records of the water licences issued under Alberta’s past and current water use-related legislation.
  • Any licence, amendment or renewal issued after November 2021 will already be in DRAS so no move is required.
  • Documents associated with water approvals and authorizations under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and the Public Lands Act are not currently required to move but will be included as part of future releases.
  • EPA’s Water Use Reporting System (WURS) will be closing as early as June 2024, so all licence holders should take action as soon as possible.

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