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Mackenzie River Basin State of the Aquatic Ecosystem Report

The Mackenzie River Basin Board is the inter-jurisdictional body established in 1997 to implement the Mackenzie River Basin Transboundary Waters Master Agreement. The Board was created as a forum for cooperative water management within the huge Mackenzie River Basin.

The Agreement is founded on five guiding principles for cooperative management:

  1. Maintenance of the ecological integrity of the aquatic ecosystem.
  2. Sustainability of water resources.
  3. Prior consultation, notification and sharing of information on developments and activities.
  4. Equitable utilization of water resources within each jurisdiction.
  5. Resolve issues in a cooperative and harmonious manner.

As well, the Agreement contains four main elements:

  1. Principles for cooperative management of the aquatic ecosystem.
  2. An administration component to facilitate the Board's business and identify its duties.
  3. Provision for neighbouring jurisdictions to negotiate bilateral, water management agreements.
  4. A dispute resolution mechanism.

The MRBB has 13 members; three represent the federal government (Health Canada, Environment Canada and Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canada) and ten represent the provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia) and territories (Northwest Territories and Yukon). One member from each of the provinces and territories represents an Aboriginal perspective and one represents the public government. Health Canada is represented by Arthur J Murphy, Regional Director General - Alberta/Northwest Territories Region as a principal member and Jagtar Sandhu, Regional Manager - Safe Environments Programme in the Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch as an alternate member.

The Board has begun to address specific commitments in the Master Agreement through the development of a strategic plan and a communication strategy. One of the Board's mandates is to deliver the"State of the Aquatic Ecosystem Report (SOAER)"every five years. Safe Environments Programme and the Regional Director General's Office - Alberta/Northwest Territories Region are pleased to inform Canadians that the "State of the Aquatic Ecosystem Report 2003" has been completed by the Mackenzie River Basin Board. This is the first report the Board has prepared since its creation in 1997. The highlights of the report are scheduled for release during the week of November 22 - 26 in Inuvik.

The report describes the state of the aquatic ecosystem in the Athabasca, Peace, Liard, Peel, Great Slave and Mackenzie-Great Bear sub-basins that comprise the Mackenzie River Basin which is one of the largest river basins in the world (covering one-sixth of the area of Canada).

The report is based on the six strategic goals of the MRBB which are:

  1. Improve water quality
  2. Ensure sufficient water quantity.
  3. Ensure human health and safety.
  4. Sustain in-stream water uses.
  5. Ensure healthy, abundant and diverse aquatic species and habitat.
  6. Ensure a knowledgeable and involved public.

A major finding of the SOAER 2003 is that the aquatic ecosystem in the Mackenzie River Basin is generally healthy. If anyone is interested in receiving a hard copy of SOAER 2003, please contact Jagtar Sandhu by telephone at (780) 495-3801 or by e-mail at For additional information, visit the Next link will take you to another Web site Mackenzie River Basin Board Website.