This engagement has been archived.
Status: Completed
Ministry responsible: Environment and Parks
Completed: 2018


In order to address the goals of the Water for Life strategy, a new directive for surface water allocations was developed. Water allocation is the process of licensing water supplies for diversion and use from our rivers and lakes in the province. The Surface Water Allocation Directive provides consistent decision guidance informed by science to attempt to balance both ecological needs and economic considerations where planning has not established specific water management objectives.

The directive criteria maintains natural hydrologic variability while taking a cumulative water allocation management approach to minimize changes to aquatic habitats, protecting critical fish and wildlife habitat.

In the fall of 2018, Albertans were invited to provide feedback on the draft Surface Water Allocation Directive. This directive presented a new method for approving water licences.

  • Stakeholder information sessions were held in Calgary and Edmonton on October 1 and 2, 2018. Environmental non-governmental organizations also participated in the information sessions and information letters were sent to Indigenous organizations and communities.
  • Feedback was received through an online survey from October 1 to November 9, 2018.
  • Feedback was provided via email and letters, leading to in-person follow up meetings when requested.

The feedback collected was considered prior to seeking approval to finalize the directive.

The final policy provides operational water allocation decision guidance based on scientifically defensible rulesets to address the cumulative effects of water diversions while considering economic objectives. The policy applies to areas where no water management plan, framework or other policy is applicable, allowing for consistent advice across the province which did not previously exist and enabling improved transparency and planning by industry.

The Alberta government, working with Alberta Energy Regulator, has committed to continue to work closely with stakeholders during policy implementation to ensure this directive is meeting the intent of environmental protection while considering economic requirements.

Life cycle

Consultation period: October to November 9, 2018

Review period: November 10, 2018 to January 2019

Policy completed: February 2019


Surface water allocation directive
Surface water allocation directive [DRAFT]
Water for life: a renewal

Related links

Fisheries management
Surface Water Allocation Directive – video of webinar, 2 hours 21 minutes