Who Does What?

All Northerners have a responsibility to care for the land and water. In the Northwest Territories (NWT), a number of organizations play leadership roles in carrying out this shared responsibility, called environmental stewardship. These include Aboriginal governments, the territorial and federal governments, co-management boards, regulatory boards, environmental non-governmental organizations, communities and industry.


Water Monitoring

Water monitoring activities have been conducted in the NWT by governments, communities, industry and other parties for many years. This historical information provides a window to the past and helps us understand our current environmental conditions. We have long-term, continuous data from some monitoring programs that go back 50 to 60 years. Other programs offer data sets that capture a snapshot in time.


The following departments have key water management or monitoring roles in the NWT. Further information on these and other departments can be found in Appendix E of Northern Voices, Northern Waters: NWT Water Stewardship Strategy (the Water Strategy).



Environment and Natural Resources , Government of the Northwest Territories

Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories (ENR-GNWT) is the authority responsible for water resources management, and therefore has an important role to play in maintaining the integrity of northern waters. ENR-GNWT manages the NWT’s inland and offshore water resources though the administration and co-management of the Northwest Territories Waters Act, the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and Regulations, and the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act. In Canada, water resources have been transferred to the provincial governments, except for Environment Canada’s federal roles and responsibilities under the Canada Water Act and international trans-boundary agreements. ENR-GNWT supports programs and initiatives under the Water Strategy, including community-based monitoring and transboundary water negotiations. ENR also supports safe drinking water through source water protection using a multi-barrier approach.


Environment Canada

In the NWT, Environment Canada collects, processes, publishes and distributes surface water quantity and quality data on a national basis through the authority of the Canada Water Act, formal agreements with ENR-GNWT, other government departments and the private sector. For real time water quantity data (water level and flow) click here and for archived water level and flow data click here. For information on water quality monitoring and to request water quality data for the NWT click here.


Other Departments of Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT)

The GNWT, through various departments, is responsible for public water supply regulation and environmental protection within the territory. Some of the departments which address water-related issues include:



Regulatory Boards

Regulatory boards regulate the use of land and water through the issuance of water licences and land use permits, and play an important role in managing our water resources. Relying on the data provided by other parties and lessons learned through previous experience, these boards are responsible for evaluating development proposals to determine any potential impacts on land and water.

If a water licence is issued by a board, there is generally a requirement for some form of monitoring program. As projects proceed, monitoring programs show whether impacts are occurring as predicted, and whether the steps used to mitigate them are working as anticipated. Sometimes mitigation measures may need to be adjusted, requiring a water licence, land use permit or environmental agreement to be modified.

Monitoring programs provide the information necessary to respond and make these types of decisions in an efficient manner. Scientists, governments, Aboriginal groups, industry and non-government organizations have a vested interest in ensuring any cumulative effects of development are closely monitored.