Fraser Basin Council


4.2 Federal Government

The Constitution Act assigns the federal government a specific set of water management responsibilities, including navigable waters, commercial fisheries and fish habitat, water on First Nations land, transboundary flows, international relations, trade and commerce, agriculture, and federal lands.1 The federal government also develops water policy. For example, refer to: Federal Water Policy. The following are some of the key federal roles and responsibilities in water management and planning:

Environment Canada

  • operates hydrometric, climate and water quality monitoring networks in partnership with the provincial Ministry of Environment;
  • undertakes research on water quality and quantity, watershed management and climate change.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

  • administers the Fisheries Act, which protects anadromous and marine fish habitats.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

  • manages water on Indian Reserves jointly with First Nation governments.

Health Canada

  • sets drinking water quality standards for Canadians.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

  • conducts research and provides information on water use in agriculture and agricultural impacts on the water resource.

Transport Canada

  • regulates transportation on water.

Natural Resources Canada

  • conducts research on groundwater and hydrologic impacts of climate change.

Over the years, the federal government has also had roles in funding infrastructure, including water, wastewater and flood protection infrastructure. In 2011, at the time this guide was completed, these functions were implemented through the Building Canada Fund, administered by Infrastructure Canada.

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About Rethinking our Water Ways

This website is a guide to help BC communities learn more about planning for local watersheds and water resources, navigate current planning processes, consider relevant issues and challenges — including regional climate change impacts —  and build capacity to develop and implement plans.


The Rethinking our Water Ways guide and website are possible thanks to funding support from the BC Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Canada's Regional Adaptation Collaborative Program. The guide and website were launched and distributed through a series of regional workshops throughout BC, with funding contributions from the Fraser Salmon and Watersheds Program, Environment Canada and the Real Estate Foundation of BC. Learn more about our funders and advisors.

We want to hear from you

Share your suggestions for this website, and ideas for future water workshops, with:

Steve Litke
Senior Program Manager
T: 604 488-5358

About the Fraser Basin Council

Rethinking our Water Ways is an initiative of the Fraser Basin Council (FBC), a charitable non-profit society that advances sustainability in the Fraser River Basin, across BC, and beyond. Established in 1997, FBC brings people together from multiple sectors to learn about sustainability and find collaborative solutions to current issues. Learn more about FBC by visiting