Water allocation transfer under a licence
Alberta's Water Act allows the transfer of the right to divert a volume of water from a source of water supply, under a certain priority. There is no physical transfer of water from the land. This type of transfer is voluntary, with a willing seller and willing buyer.
The Alberta government monitors this system through a number of control mechanisms. These require that a transfer must first be authorized in a water management plan or through an order of Cabinet. A transfer can be reviewed by the Alberta government, which can withhold a percentage of the transferred water.
In response to comments from Albertans on the potential long-term impact on the basic requirements for water, the Water Act specifically states that the rights related to household purposes and registrations for traditional agricultural uses are not subject to the transfer provisions. These rights will always remain attached to the land.
Transfers can be permanent or temporary. With a temporary transfer, the transferred allocation reverts to the original licencee after a specified time period. The government's holdback of up to 10 per cent of the water in an allocation transfer can remain in the natural water body or be held in a Water Conservation Objective licence and will not be available for reallocation for other uses. This holdback applies to permanent and temporary transfers of allocations.