It has largely gone unnoticed by the media in Alberta, but yesterday was the deadline for submissions to Alberta Environment regarding an application by the Eastern Irrigation District to have its water licence amended to include purposes other than irrigation. In other words, the EID would like to lift restrictions on the use of its water licence to make it easier to sell rights to industrial and commercial users in Southern Alberta’s burgeoning water market.

It seems like a minor technical detail, but the Eastern Irrigation District’s proposal to change the use of their water licence would lead to a fundamental shift away from how our government oversees the use and allocation of our rivers. It would allow the Eastern Irrigation District to sell water rights to commercial and industrial users without public oversight or input. It would further entrench and deregulate an existing water market in the South Saskatchewan River Basin and undermine efforts to prevent the Alberta government from expanding a market-based approach to the allocation of water resources elsewhere in the province.


The Alberta government is currently in the process of reviewing its water allocation system.The Council of Canadians and many of our allies are concerned that Alberta appears to be poised to expand water markets throughout the province. It will be announcing new legislation in the fall, but has not consulted the public so far.

To read our submission, go to:

Meera Karunananthan

Meera Karunananthan

Meera Karunananthan is the national water campaigner at the Council of Canadians.