Drinking Water in the NWT

Roles and Responsibilities

There are many different groups responsible for safe drinking water. This diagram provides a visual representation of all the important contributors in ensuring drinking water is safe in the NWT.

Below you can read more about each group’s responsibility. These many contributors all work to ensure safe drinking water for NWT residents.

Community Governments

Water Treatment Plant Operator

  • Keep water treatment plant and distribution system clean and operational

  • Treat water to meet guidelines

  • Report unsafe water

  • Maintain certification

  • Perform regular system checks

  • Perform or arrange for system maintenance

  • Perform sampling, testing, recording, and reporting

  • General housekeeping

Supervisor of Water Treatment Plant Operator

  • Manage water licences
  • Report unsafe water
  • Assist and advise residents
  • Develop maintenance workplan
  • Manage safe water delivery system
  • Manage water supply, treatment and distribution


  • Plan and allocate funding for capital projects
  • Own and operate water and sewer infrastructure
  • Approve budget for maintenance and training
  • Approve rates for water and sewer services
  • Advise residents
  • Maintain water licence
  • Approve annual report for submission to water board

Senior Administrative Officer

  • Develop operator training plan
  • Report unsafe water
  • Develop maintenance workplan
  • Supervise water treatment plant operator
  • Facilitate operator certification
  • Prepare and submit annual report to water board

Property Owners

  • Clean and maintain water tank annually (trucked systems)
  • Maintain household systems to prevent leaks and water wastage
  • Maintain in-house water circulation devices such as circ pumps (piped systems)
  • Pay utility bills and/or taxes to fund system operation (as required by the community government)
  • Alert the municipality of any issues with service lines (piped systems)

Government of the Northwest Territories

Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA)

  • Provide training and certification to operators
  • Water and sewer funding
  • Technical and troubleshooting support for water plants
  • Water supply system reviews

Infrastructure (INF)

  • Project Management and Technical Services for bundled water treatment and plant projects
  • Provide maintenance assistance, such as generator service, in some regions

Health and Social Services (HSS)

  • Drinking water quality regulatory and enforcement authority
  • Lead development of and enforce the drinking water quality sampling and testing requirements in accordance with the Public Health Act and Water Supply System Regulations 
  • Approve the use of a water source, and the design and operation of water systems
  • Issue boil water advisories

Environment and Natural Resources (ENR)

  • Manage water resources in the Mackenzie Valley and inland waters in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region through the administration of the Waters Act and Regulations.
  • Provide information and expert advice to resource management boards and other clients on the effects of proposed water and land activities on the aquatic environment, as required by the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Waters Act and Regulations.
  • Coordinate NWT Water Stewardship Strategy implementation
  • Collect information about water quantity and quality in the NWT in cooperation with Environment Canada and other federal and territorial departments.
  • Support community-based aquatic ecosystem monitoring
  • Support community source protection initiatives
  • Negotiate and implement transboundary water management agreements with neighbouring jurisdictions

Water Boards

Water licences issued by the water boards of the NWT: