Part of Shorelands

Shorelands – Wetlands

The Alberta Wetland Policy helps conserve, restore, protect and manage the province’s wetland areas.


Wetlands are lands saturated with water long enough to promote:

  • formation of water-altered soils
  • growth of water-tolerant vegetation
  • various kinds of biological activity adapted to a wet environment

Alberta Wetland Policy

The Alberta Wetland Policy maintains the value of wetlands to the environment, society and economy through:

  • conservation
  • restoration
  • protection
  • management

For more information on the policy, supporting documents and tools, see:

Wetland ownership

Permanent and naturally occurring bodies of water

The Crown owns the bed and shore of permanent and naturally occurring bodies of water, including wetlands on private property. Section 3 of the Public Lands Act outlines the legal aspect of this ownership. Short-term or seasonal surface water in wetlands is not considered a permanent body of water.

What is the bed and shore of a body of water?

Section 17 of the Surveys Act states:

… the bed and shore of a body of water shall be the land covered so long by water as to wrest it from vegetation or as to mark a distinct character on the vegetation where it extends into the water or on the soil itself.

Crown ownership assessments

The Alberta government is responsible for claiming ownership to the bed and shore of a permanent and or naturally occurring body of water within a wetland. However, a surface water permanency assessment can be done in advance. It is submitted to Alberta government when requesting a Crown ownership assessment. Only assessments on wetlands that contain semi-permanent or permanent surface water should be submitted.

For information on assessing surface water permanency see: Guide for Assessing Permanence of Wetland Basins.

The Crown does not claim all wetland areas, but it does own the water. Therefore, any activity in a wetland or water body will need to comply with the Water Act. It may also need an approval.


To request a Crown ownership determination:

Email: [email protected]