Introduction



Information provided here will guide you in planning and carrying out your proposed development activities so that they:

  • comply with applicable legislation, regulations and policies; and,
  • meet provincial and federal standards of performance.
Knowing what legal obligations and standards apply to your project will assist you in choosing the Best Management Practices (BMPs) for conducting your project activities.

If you already have experience working in and around water and are familiar with the provincial Notification and Approval process and DFO's Notification and Authorization process you may opt to bypass this Introduction section and proceed to the specific Guidebook Chapter(s) that is/are applicable to your project.

Due Diligence

It is your responsibility when working in and around water to:
  1. be familiar with the municipal, provincial, and federal legal requirements;
  2. recognize and address the potential impacts to aquatic and riparian habitats, water quality and quantity, fish and wildlife populations, and public safety and property from your proposed works;
  3. recognize and address the need to avoid, mitigate or lessen those impacts or risks;
  4. ensure the protection of fish and wildlife populations and their habitats, including species at risk;
  5. ensure the protection of properties and human health;
  6. obtain the appropriate permits and authorizations from all regulatory agencies before proceeding with activities; and
  7. conduct your works in a manner that complies with the law and avoids, mitigates or lessens potential impacts to aquatic and riparian habitats, water quality and quantity, fish and wildlife populations, and public safety and property.
Guidebook chapters:
  • Bank Stabilization
    • Dike or erosion protection
    • Stream Channel restoration or maintenance
    • Fish habitat restoration or maintenance
    • Emergency erosion or Flood protection
  • Beaver Dam Removal
    • Beaver dam removal by a trapper
    • Beaver dam removal
  • Bridges
    • Bridge superstructure repair or maintenance
    • Clear-span bridge construction, maintenance or removal
    • Ice bridge construction or removal
    • Emergency obstruction removal
  • Channel Maintenance
    • Navigational dredging
    • Vegetation removal
    • Restoration or maintenance
    • Stream clean-up
    • Invasive aquatic vegetation removal
  • Culverts
    • Culvert installation maintenance or removal
    • Culvert obstruction removal
  • Habitat Enhancement & Restoration
    • Fish habitat restoration or maintenance
  • Miscellaneous Works
    • Flow or water level measuring device
    • Fish fence
    • Fish screen
    • Fish/game guard fences
    • Temporary ford
  • Pipeline Crossings
    • Directional drilling
    • Punch and bore drilling
    • Other drilling
  • Public Utility Works
    • Riparian vegetation maintenance
    • Routine minor maintenance
    • Overhead electrical or telecommunication line construction
    • Underwater cable crossings
  • Urban Stormwater Management
    • Storm sewer outfall construction or maintenance
    • Installation or cleaning of drainage tile outlets
  • Wharf, Pier, Dock, Boathouse & Mooring
    • Removal, maintenance or construction of a structure
    • Small moorings
Supporting documents:
The Fisheries Act is the main federal Act affecting all fish, fish habitat and water quality. Under the Fisheries Act, no one may carry out any work or undertaking that results in the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction (HADD) of fish habitat, unless this HADD has been authorized by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Will your project result in HADD?
If you know your project will cause Harmful Alteration, Disruption or Destruction (HADD) of fish habitat you must apply for project Approval from the BC Ministry of Environment (MOE) and Authorization from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).
Acts and regulations exist at the provincial and federal levels to protect fish and wildlife species, habitats and water quality. Municipalities and regional districts may also have local bylaws that amplify provincial and federal legislation for working in or near water.
Federal, Provincial and/or Local Government consultation required before proceeding.

Please consult the MOE & DFO contact list.

Federal Legislation

Fisheries Act

Act Legislation DFO Act Summary

Species at Risk Act

Act Legislation DFO Act Summary DFO SARA Homepage Species at Risk Public Registry

Navigable Waters Protection Act

Act Legislation

Provincial Legislation

Water Act

Act Legislation Section 9 Approvals & Notifications

Fish Protection Act

Act Legislation Fish Protection Act Home

Riparian Areas Regulation

Riparian Areas Regulation Home

Wildlife Act

Act Legislation BC Ministry of Environment, Fish & Wildlife Branch Home Wildlife Act Permit Regulations

Other Provincial Legislation

Legislation

Local Government Legislation

Local Government Act

Act Legislation Note: Local Governments throughout the province have put in place various restrictions and bylaws, it is your responsibility to contact your local government (municipality and regional district) to find out if local bylaws apply to your proposed works.
Additional Considerations should be addressed prior to starting instream works. Additional Considerations include, but are not limited to:
  • Additional Legislation
  • Land Ownership
  • Public Safety
  • Completion of Work
  • Water Quality
  • Species and Habitat
  • Other Water users
Note: The Additional Considerations listed above represent common project considerations. This information should not be deemed comprehensive. Other legislation and considerations may be applicable to your project.

Does your project sufficiently address Additional Considerations?
Additional Considerations should be addressed prior to starting instream works. Additional Considerations include, but are not limited to:
  • Additional Legislation


    Forestry, Range and Mining

    If your project:
    • holds an agreement under the Forest Act
    • holds an agreement under the Range Act
    • operates under the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act
    • holds a permit under Section 10 of the Mines Act
    Section 44(1)(a) through (x) of the Water Act, Water Regulation may be carried out without a Notification to MOE.

    Workers Compensation Act

    Act Legislation WorkSafeBC Occupational Health and Safety Regulations & Related Materials
  • Land Ownership


    If works will occur on Crown Land or land owned by another person, an approval must be obtained from the owner before proceeding with works. (Water Act, Water Regulation Subsection 37(4)(b)).
  • Public Safety


    Works must be designed, constructed and maintained so life, property and environment are not endangered (Water Act, Water Regulation Subsection 38(1)(b)).
  • Completion of Work


    Once works are started, changes must be completed without delay, unless necessary to preserve the nature of the stream (Water Act, Water Regulation Subsection 38(1)(b)).
  • Water Quality


    Ensure your project meets water quality objectives by:
    • not allowing sediments or other compounds to enter the stream
    • not allowing stream channel banks to become destabilized during or after construction
    • using environmentally sound construction practices

    (Water Act, Water Regulation Subsection 41(a) to (g))

    Stream Stewardship: A Guide for Planners and Developers (PDF 6.4MB) British Columbia Approved Water Quality Guidelines
  • Species and Habitat


    Streams are complex ecosystems supporting a range of aquatic habitats and species. Streams often support rare and endangered species and may support fish habitat. Any works in or about a stream must protect fish and wildlife habitat.

    Important considerations:
    • fish habitat includes water courses, streams, ditches, ponds and wetlands that provide water, food or nutrients into a fish-bearing stream even if they do not contain fish or if they only have temporary or seasonal flows
    • in additional to the watercourses, the vegetated areas along a stream is considered fish and wildlife habitat because they provide nutrients and shade to a stream
    • the Water Act also applies to those streams that may have no fish habitat. These streams are important for the complex ecosystem functions they provide, which could include the support of amphibians and rare or endangered species
  • Other Water users


    Your project must ensure that existing water uses under the Water Act are protected and that the users are given a minimum three days notice prior to beginning works and provided with an adequate supply of water as required (Water Act, Water Regulation Section 43(1) and (2))
Note: The Additional Considerations listed above represent common project considerations. This information should not be deemed comprehensive. Other legislation and considerations may be applicable to your project.
Please consult the MOE & DFO contact list.
Instructions to get into direct communication with other government agencies.
Links to Regional Timing Windows, General Project BMPs, etc, plus any text describing how/why they would be needed at this step in the flowchart.

Glossary

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