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Prairie Provinces Water Board Signs New Water Quality Objectives

Major Step Taken in Water Quality Management on the Prairies

June 22, 2015 - The governments of Canada, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, through the Prairie Provinces Water Board, have agreed to new water quality objectives aimed at ensuring prairie waterways are protected, Leona Aglukkaq, federal Minister of the Environment, Shannon Phillips, Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Parks, Minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency Herb Cox, and Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Tom Nevakshonoff announced today.

“I am pleased to be part of this renewed commitment to safeguard the future quality of freshwater resources across the prairies,” said Aglukkaq.  “Today’s signing of these new and meaningful water quality objectives reinforces the Government of Canada’s strong commitment to collaborate with provincial partners in protecting our shared freshwater resources here in Manitoba and across the prairies.”

“The Prairie Provinces Water Board has been leading water management co-operation between the Prairie provinces for almost 70 years, and been involved in water quality for more than 20 years,” Nevakshonoff said.  “We are thrilled to take the next step in water quality management on the prairies with the signing of these water quality objectives.”
The Prairie Provinces Water Board was formed in 1948 to make the best use of interprovincial water and resolve conflicts between upstream and downstream users.  The purpose of the board is to share water equitably between the prairie provinces, while protecting surface water quality and groundwater aquifers.

“The waters we share with our neighbours are vital to maintaining a healthy environment and sustaining economic growth in Saskatchewan,” Cox said.  “By working together we can achieve the common goal of improved water quality and protection of this essential resource for future generations.”

The agreement establishes new water quality objectives in 12 interprovincial rivers.  These objectives describe water quality conditions known to protect specific water uses and are acceptable to upstream and downstream provinces.  They also help assess the impact of proposed developments on water quality and enable the PPWB to identify potential interprovincial water quality issues.

“Alberta is committed to meeting the objectives defined in the agreement and working collaboratively to improve the water quality within our shared watersheds,” Phillips said.   Together we can ensure a healthy and abundant water supply now, and for future generations.” 

The provinces agree to strive to meet the new objectives, which include thresholds for nutrients, metals, major ions, physical characteristics, pesticides and radioisotopes.  Water quality objectives were first established by the Prairie Provinces Water Board in 1992.  The new and revised objectives offer additional protection and account for all water uses, including protection of aquatic life, agriculture uses, recreation and treatability for use as drinking water.  Several pesticides, metals and nutrients are now included that were not part of the 1992 agreement.

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For more information, contact:

Patrick Boyle
Water Security Agency
Moose Jaw
Phone: 306-694-8914
Email: Patrick.Boyle@wsask.ca
Cell: 306-631-6997