Seventy-Five Years of Alberta Water Law: Maturity, Demise & (and) Rebirth


  • David R. Percy



Water law has been of great importance in Alberta's legal and economic community over the last seventy-five years. By the time the University of Alberta's Faculty of Law first opened its doors in 1921, the reformed law of water allocation had already reached maturity and was showing its first signs of strain. Over the next seventy-five years, the problems that were beginning to emerge in 1827 gradually created irresistible pressures for change until, in 1996, the law of water allocation underwent a further major transformation. The purpose of this article is to describe this evolution in the law of water allocation. The author begins by outlining how the law had developed to maturity by 1921 and the problems that were beginning to emerge at that time. He goes on to explain how those problems finally overwhelmed the existing law by the last decade of the century. Finally, the author sets out the legislative response in the form of the new Water Act of 1996.