Channel Maintenance


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You have selected this document because your project involves Channel Maintenance in or about a stream. Maintenance activities are periodically required to ensure the ability and capacity of the channel to carry adequate flow is maintained. Works should only be conducted when necessary and be performed by a Qualified Professional(s). Channel maintenance refers to any of the following activities:

  • debris, waste or garbage removal;
  • sediment, vegetation and/or woody debris removal;
  • stream channel dredging; and/or,
  • ditch maintenance.
When planning your project, develop designs and select locations to minimize potential impacts to fish and fish habitat. If your works are outside the scope of this Guidebook then a MOE Approval application must be completed and DFO contacted to determine if a review and/or Authorization under the Fisheries Act is appropriate.

How to proceed with your Channel Maintenance Project

The following steps will help guide you through the provincial and federal Notification, Approval and/or Authorization process for Channel Maintenance works:

Does your project involve Channel Maintenance in and about a stream?
Proceed to Introduction to reselect project appropriate activity
or
Contact your local MOE and/or DFO representative for assistance.
Have you considered all applicable Legislation, Regulations and Policies?
Proceed to Introduction for further details on Legislation, Regulations, Policies, Avoidance of HADD under the Fisheries Act and applicable Region Operational Statement(s)
Proceed to BMP Section of this document and apply relevant BMPs and Conditions to help your project adhere to the required Standards and Conditions.
Proceed to BMP Section of this document and apply relevant BMPs and Conditions to help your project adhere to the required Standards and Conditions.
Proceed to BMP Section of this document and apply relevant BMPs and Conditions to help your project adhere to the required Standards and Conditions.
Proceed to BMP Section of this document and apply relevant BMPs and Conditions to help your project adhere to the required Standards and Conditions.
Submit MOE Notification
No DFO notification required
Apply for DFO Authorization
No MOE notification required

Best Management Practices

The following Best Management Practices (BMPs) are methods, that if followed, will help ensure your project minimizes potential impacts to fish and fish habitat and will provide a standard level of protection to the aquatic and terrestrial environment potentially affected by your project.

It is the responsibility of the proponent/developer to ensure that they are in compliance with all applicable legislation. There are three (3) types of BMPs you should consider:

  1. General BMPs and Standard Project Considerations applicable to any project;
  2. Channel Maintenance specific BMPs (below); and,
  3. Supportive information applicable to project design, implementation and Channel Maintenance techniques.

General Project BMPs and Standard Project Considerations

Please proceed to the General BMPs and Standard Project Considerations section to review considerations applicable to your project.

Channel Maintenance Specific BMPs

To achieve the required Standards and objectives that your activity must meet, apply the following BMPs as applicable to your works. To reduce impacts on fish and wildlife habitats and populations, your Channel Maintenance activities must consider:

A. Navigational Dredging

Design

CHM01 ensure General BMPs and Standard Project Considerations have been consulted and appropriately applied prior to commencement of work;
CHM02 time routine maintenance dredging to avoid and protect spawning fish and incubating eggs by adhering to fisheries Regional Timing Windows;

Operational

CHM03 operate machinery on land or on water (i.e. from a barge or vessel) in a manner that minimizes disturbance to the banks or waterbody bottom;
CHM04 prevent physical damage to vegetation along the foreshore by ensuring vessels, if required for dredging works, do not ground;
CHM05 install effective erosion and sediment control measures before starting work to prevent the entry or re-suspension of sediment in the waterbody;
CHM06 inspect erosion and sediment control measures regularly to ensure proper function and make all necessary repairs if any damage occurs;
CHM07 prevent fish from being trapped in a dredging area by isolating and salvaging fish prior to commencement of work (see General BMPs and Standard Project Considerations: Salvage of Fish and/or Wildlife section for further information);
CHM08 conduct dredging activities on calm days to minimize the suspension of fine sediment particles in the water column;
CHM09 avoid bottom stockpiling or side casting during dredging;
CHM10 avoid placing vertical spuds or other anchors into sensitive fish habitat areas (e.g. spawning areas);
CHM11 dispose dredgeate off site and in accordance with appropriate legislation;
CHM12 removal of vegetation should be kept to a minimum to prevent erosion and fish habitat damage;

Post Works Mitigation

CHM13 restore banks to original condition if any disturbance occurs;
CHM14 maintain effective erosion and sediment control measures until complete re-vegetation of disturbed areas is achieved;

B. Mechanical or Manual Cutting of Annual Vegetation

Design

CHM15 ensure General BMPs and Standard Project Considerations have been consulted and appropriately applied prior to commencement of work;
CHM16 vegetation removal should adhere to Regional Timing Windows to prevent disruption of fish and wildlife habitat;
CHM17 ensure aquatic vegetation removal techniques do not employ the use of herbicides or other deleterious substances in or around the watercourse;

Operational

CHM18 retain riparian vegetation according to applicable legislation and manage (e.g. prune, top) only to a height required for operational and safety needs;
CHM19 clear vegetation by using hand techniques whenever possible;
CHM20 ensure refueling of hand tools (e.g. chainsaw) occurs outside the riparian area and employ measure to ensure spills do not occur. In the event of a spill, appropriate clean up procedures should be established prior to beginning works;
CHM21 install effective erosion and sediment control measures before starting work to prevent the entry or re-suspension of sediment in the watercourse and to prevent Harmful Alteration, Disruption or Destruction (HADD) of fish habitat;

Post Works Mitigation

CHM22 maintain effective erosion and sediment control measures until complete re-vegetation of disturbed areas is achieved;

C. Stream Channel Restoration or Maintenance

Design

CHM23 ensure General BMPs and Standard Project Considerations have been consulted and appropriately applied prior to commencement of work;
CHM24 design instream activities to coincide with low flow conditions, when eggs and alevins are not present in gravel and when there is the least risk to fish, wildlife populations and habitats (see Regional Timing Windows);
CHM25 during project design, consider whether removal of object(s) or material from the stream would cause more damage to fish and wildlife populations and habitats than would result if the object(s)/materials are left. If the object is large and is more than one-third buried in the stream substrates, its removal may result in a large amount of sediment being resuspended, discharged or may result in significant changes to in-channel habitats. Consult a Qualified Professional (QP) for changes to in-channel habitats;
CHM26 address stream channel maintenance by considering development of long-term solutions to flood or debris flow risk to eliminate or reduce stream and channel maintenance. Long-term solutions may include:
  • appropriately constructed and licensed instream sediment traps (requires additional Water Act Approval);
  • control or reduction of upstream sources of sediment;
  • increased drainage control structures in the watershed;
  • construction of off-line detention or retention facilities; and,
  • shade trees and shrubs planted to shade out instream vegetation.

Operational

CHM27 remove material only needed to alleviate flood or debris flow risk;
CHM28 retain existing instream and riparian vegetation and other features, including trees, bushes, shrubs, weeds or tall grasses along any stream bank; mats of floating vegetation; overhanging vegetation; natural large woody debris and large boulders;
CHM29 maintain or improve the existing channel complexity by retaining or creating a diverse mix of instream structures and overhanging vegetation;
CHM30 do not disturb stream banks that can expose underlying soils, cause silt to enter the stream or result in loss of fish habitat;
CHM31 removal of material must not lead to stream channel instability or increase the risk of sedimentation into the watercourse;
CHM32 remove spoil materials in a way that ensures sediment or debris does not enter the watercourse;

Post Works Mitigation

CHM33 maintain effective erosion and sediment control measures until complete re-vegetation of disturbed areas is achieved;

D. Stream Channel Clean-up

Design

CHM34 ensure General BMPs and Standard Project Considerations have been consulted and appropriately applied prior to commencement of work;
CHM35 design instream clean-up activities to coincide with low flow conditions, when eggs and alevins are not present in gravel and when there is the least risk to fish, wildlife populations and habitats (see Regional Timing Windows);
CHM36 ensure landowners whose properties may be affected by clean-up activities are contacted prior to works;

Operational

CHM37 avoid foul smelling areas, spills of unknown substances or containers of hazardous or unidentified materials;
CHM38 contact emergency response agencies (MOE Environmental Emergency Management Plan incident reporting hotline 1-800-663-3456; DFO Observe, Record and Report hotline 1-800-465-4336) or municipal crews for removal of unknown substances or containers of hazardous or unidentified materials;
CHM39 obtain permission from property owners before storing removed materials on their property;
CHM40 ensure noctural materials (e.g. logs and boulders) and overhanging vegetation remain in the stream and only man-made material will be removed;
CHM41 do not disturb stream banks that can expose underlying soils, cause silt to enter the stream or result in loss of fish habitat;
CHM42 removal of material must not lead to stream channel instability or increase the risk of sedimentation into the watercourse;
CHM43 restrict salvage activities to shallow areas and to areas well away from the watercourse mouth;
CHM44 consult with the water purveyer prior to works if a community water intake is located near clean-up activities;

Post Works Mitigation

CHM45 remove spoil materials to a location outside the riparian area to ensure sediment or debris does not enter the watercourse;

E. Mechanical or Manual Control of Invasive Non-native Aquatic Vegetation

Design

CHM46 ensure General BMPs and Standard Project Considerations have been consulted and appropriately applied prior to commencement of work;
CHM47 ensure non-native invasive aquatic vegetation has been correctly identified before implementing aquatic vegetation control measures;
CHM48 vegetation removal should adhere to Regional Timing Windows to prevent disruption of fish and wildlife habitat;
CHM49 ensure aquatic vegetation removal techniques do not employ the use of herbicides or other deleterious substances;

Operational

CHM50 do not remove native vegetation, natural large woody debris or rock material in the area that is being cleared of invasive aquatic vegetation;
CHM51 avoid removal of upland vegetation above the high water mark (HWM);
CHM52 make all effort to use hand removal techniques (i.e. shearing and cutting) over pulling and tearing techniques when removing aquatic vegetation growth. If hand removal techniques are not possible, floating machinery must only be used in a manner that prevents damage to bottom substrates;
CHM53 store and dispose of removed vegetation outside the riparian area to prevent it from re-entering the waterbody;
CHM54 install effective erosion and sediment control measures before starting work to prevent the entry or re-suspension of sediment in the waterbody;
CHM55 inspect erosion and sediment control measures regularly to ensure proper function and make all necessary repairs if any damage occurs;

Post Works Mitigation

CHM56 remove sediment control measures in a way that prevents the escape of settled sediment;
CHM57 restore banks to original condition if any disturbance from machinery occurs; and,
CHM58 maintain effective erosion and sediment control measures until complete re-vegetation of disturbed areas is achieved.
Where to start?

If you are unfamiliar with Instream Works, please use the interactive Introductory flowchart to help guide you through the process.

Glossary

Important words, denoted by blue underlined text are defined in the glossary.

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More information...

See the Supportive Information section at the end of this document for links to other websites and documents.