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N.W.T. to push for water deal with Alberta

N.W.T. to push for water deal with Alberta

Last Updated: Friday, March 2, 2007 | 11:17 AM MT

Water will top the agenda when the environment ministers from the Northwest Territories and Alberta meet in Edmonton on March 20.

The territorial government is trying to reach an agreement on water quality and quantity with its southern neighbour, said Bob Bailey, the N.W.T.'s deputy environment minister.

The territory is concerned Alberta's massive tarsands developments are taking a toll, he said, causing historic low water levels on the Slave River, downstream from the Athabasca River, which is at the heart of the development.

The fear is that more development will require more water from the Athabasca River and likely make the situation worse, he said.

"Alberta is a booming economy, as we are, and we need to take care of our water," said Bailey.

It's expected to take three years for the two jurisdictions to negotiate an agreement on water, he said.

However, Alberta does not believe there is any connection between the tarsands and water levels, said Bev Yee, Alberta's assistant deputy minister of environmental stewardship.

"When we look at our figures, in terms of actual withdrawals, we don't believe the withdrawals are having that kind of an impact," Yee told CBC News this week.

Regulators have approved three new oilsands projects in northern Alberta since the fall.

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