The Waters Act

Background and Jurisdiction

The Waters Act (WA) and the Waters Regulations (WR) govern the direct or indirect use of inland waters, disposal of waste and physical alterations to inland water bodies, within that portion of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region that is within the Northwest Territories.

The WA authorizes the Inuvialuit Water Board (IWB or Board) - consisting of 5 members appointed by the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) Minister of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR), to consider applications and issue licences as required for these activities. The Board has its main office in Inuvik.

APPLICATION OF THE WATERS ACT

Under the WA the following users are exempt from having to obtain a water licence:

  • Domestic water users;
  • Instream water users (i.e. boating, fishing, swimming);
  • Use of water for firefighting purposes; and
  • The alteration of water bodies for emergency flood control purposes

Schedules D - H annexed to the WR establish three levels of activities with regard to Water Licence permitting:

  • Those permitted without a water licence;
  • Those requiring a Type B Water Licence; and
  • Those requiring a Type A Water Licence.

These Schedules identify the thresholds that determine which licence type will be required. Generally, Type A Licences are for large undertakings and Type B Licences are for smaller projects.

The IWB issues water licences that contain conditions relating to various elements of the licensed undertaking, such as:

  • Authorizing the amount of water to be used;
  • Provision of security deposits;
  • Construction and modifications;
  • Guide to Water Licensing in the ISR;
  • Operation and maintenance;
  • Waste disposal;
  • Spill contingency planning;
  • Water quality and quantity measurements;
  • Effluent standards and studies;
  • Abandonment and restoration; and
  • Other relevant conditions as determined by the Board.

It is also important to note that the activities of the IWB are bound in the ISR by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA – 2012). Prior to the Board issuing a water licence, the proposed project must be assessed by the Environmental Impact Screening Committee under CEAA for environmental and socio-economic impacts.

From this assessment a decision will be made as to whether or not the project may proceed through the licensing process.

Copies of the WA and WR are available in our documents section under legislation.