Public Utility Works


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You have selected this document because your project involves Public Utility Works in or about a stream. Works addressed in this section include:

  • riparian vegetation maintenance, in existing and active right-of-ways;
  • public utility works routine minor maintenance;
  • overhead electrical or telecommunication line construction; and/or,
  • underwater cable crossings.
Works specifically involving pipeline crossings should refer to the Pipeline Crossing Guidebook section. 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 Public Utility Works Project

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

Does your project involve Public Utility Works in or 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.

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. Public Utility Works specific BMPs (below); and,
  3. Supportive information applicable to project design, implementation and Public Utility Works 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.

Public Utility Works 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 Public Utility Works activities must consider:

A. Maintenance of Riparian Vegetation in Existing Rights-of-Way

Design

PUW01 ensure General BMPs and Standard Project Considerations have been consulted and appropriately applied prior to commencement of work;
PUW02 vegetation maintenance and removal of operational debris within the watercourse should adhere to Regional Timing Windows to prevent disruption of fish and wildlife habitat;
PUW03 ensure vegetation maintenance techniques do not employ the use of herbicides or other deleterious substances in or around the watercourse;
PUW04 if tree topping or maintenance works are being proposed within the riparian area an assessment by a Qualified Professional must be conducted to determine the presence and status of bird nests;

Operational

PUW05 maintenance activities (e.g. mowing, brushing, topping, slashing, etc.) must not damage more than one third (1/3) of the total woody vegetation in the right-of-way, within 30 m of the high water mark (HWM);
PUW06 retain riparian vegetation according to applicable legislation and manage (e.g. prune, top) only to a height required for operational and safety needs;
PUW07 maintain riparian vegetation in the right-of-way by using hand techniques, whenever possible;
PUW08 ensure refueling of hand tools (e.g. chainsaw) occurs at least 30 m from the high water mark (HWM) of the watercourse 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;
PUW09 if operation of machinery on land is required to maintain vegetation, ensure machinery minimizes disturbance to the banks of the watercourse;
PUW10 remove spoil materials in a way that ensures sediment or debris does not enter the watercourse and prevents the Harmful Alteration, Disruption or Destruction (HADD) of fish habitat;
PUW11 install effective 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;
PUW12 inspect sediment control measures regularly to ensure proper function and make all necessary repairs if any damage occurs;
PUW13 ensure root structure and bank stability are maintained when altering a tree located on the bank of a watercourse;
PUW14 avoid vegetation maintenance or management activities that will affect trees used by birds and other wildlife while they are breeding, nesting, roosting or rearing young;
PUW15 trees or other structures containing nests of eagles, peregrine falcons, gyrfalcons, ospreys, herons and burrowing owls are protected year-round and must not be felled;
PUW16 retain large woody debris and large diameter trees stubs (where feasible) as these structures are important for preservation of fish habitat and wildlife populations;
PUW17 fall trees away from the watercourse unless there is an immediate threat to the public;

Post Works Mitigation

PUW18 maintain effective erosion and sediment control measures until complete re-vegetation of disturbed areas is achieved;

B. Minor & Routine Maintenance of Public Utility Works Activities

Design

PUW19 ensure General BMPs and Standard Project Considerations have been consulted and appropriately applied prior to commencement of work;

Operational

PUW20 removal of vegetation should be kept to a minimum to prevent erosion and Harmful Alteration, Disruption or Destruction (HADD) of fish habitat;
PUW21 inspect sediment control measures regularly to ensure proper function and make all necessary repairs if any damage occurs;

C. Overhead Line Construction Activities

Design

PUW22 ensure General BMPs and Standard Project Considerations have been consulted and appropriately applied prior to commencement of work;
PUW23 design the alignment of overhead lines to avoid or minimize the number of watercourse crossings required;
PUW24 minimize disturbance to the riparian vegetation by constructing overhead lines in areas that have been previously disturbed;
PUW25 reduce overhead line right-of-way widths and/or avoid running the alignment parallel to the watercourse;
PUW26 design and construct approaches so that they are perpendicular to the watercourse to minimize loss or disturbance to riparian vegetation resulting in Harmful Alteration, Disruption or Destruction (HADD);
PUW27 avoid building any structures on meander bends, braided streams, alluvial fans, active floodplains or any other area that is inherently unstable and may result in erosion and scouring of any structures resulting in Harmful Alteration, Disruption or Destruction (HADD);

Operational

PUW28 locate all temporary or permanent structures, such as poles, sufficiently beyond the top of bank to prevent erosion and avoid Harmful Alteration, Disruption or Destruction (HADD) to the watercourse;
PUW29 install overhead lines during frozen conditions, where possible, or using aerial methods (e.g. helicopter) where wet terrain (e.g. bogs) occurs;

Post Works Mitigation

PUW30 inspect erosion and sediment control measures regularly to ensure proper function and make all necessary repairs if any damage occurs;

D. Underwater Cable Crossing

Trenchless Cable Activities - Directional Drilling

Design

PUW31 ensure General BMPs and Standard Project Considerations have been consulted and appropriately applied prior to commencement of work;
PUW32 document all incidents of frac-out, spills or release of deleterious substances that occur and submit them to the appropriate authorities upon completion of works;
PUW33 immediately notify MOE and DFO if frac-out occurs during works (MOE Environmental Emergency Management Plan Incident Reporting Hotline 1-800-663-3456; DFO Observe, Record and Report Hotline 1-800-465-4336);
PUW34 conduct geotechnical evaluations for directional drilling and boring operations where channel and surficial morphology or presence of known buried debris and construction materials indicates a high risk of crossing failure;
PUW35 develop a frac-out response plan that includes measures to stop work, contain drilling mud, prevent further migration into the watercourse and process to notify all applicable authorities immediately should an incident occur;
PUW36 design the drill path at a minimum of 1 m depth below the watercourse to minimize the risk of frac-out and prevent the line from becoming exposed due to natural scouring of the stream bed;
PUW37 design drill entry and exit points far enough from the banks of the watercourse to minimize impact on these areas;

Operational

PUW38 ensure operators do not remove riparian vegetation between drill or bore entry and exit points in preparation of trenchless stream crossing operations;
PUW39 construct a dugout/settling basin at the drilling exit site to contain drilling mud to prevent sediment and other deleterious substances from entering the watercourse. If this cannot be achieved, use silt fences or other effective erosion and sediment control measures to prevent drilling mud from entering the watercourse and causing Harmful Alteration, Disruption or Destruction (HADD) to fish habitat;
PUW40 store all waste materials outside of the riparian area and dispose of excess drilling mud, cuttings and other waste materials at an adequately sized disposal facility located away from the water to prevent it from entering the watercourse;
PUW41 prevent deleterious substances, such as polymers, bentonite, lubricants and sediment from entering the watercourse and causing Harmful Alteration, Disruption or Destruction (HADD) to fish habitat;
PUW42 monitor fluid pressure and watercourse a minimum of 400 m downstream of the crossing site to identify signs of frac-out during all phases of construction;

Emergency Frac-out Response

PUW43 keep all material and equipment needed to contain and clean up drilling mud releases on-site, in good working order and readily accessible in the event of a frac-out;
PUW44 immediately notify MOE and DFO if frac-out occurs during works (MOE Environmental Emergency Management Plan Incident Reporting Hotline 1-800-663-3456; DFO Observe, Record and Report Hotline 1-800-465-4336);
PUW45 train all appropriate staff in emergency protocol implementation prior to works as part of emergency frac-out plans;
PUW46 establish a prioritized clean up procedure according to risk of potential harm and to capacity of drilling mud disposal to prevent re-entry into the watercourse;
PUW47 ensure emergency clean-up measures will not result in damage to banks or watercourse;
PUW48 document all incidents of frac-out, spills or release of deleterious substances that occur and submit them to the appropriate authorities upon completion of works;

Post Works Mitigation

PUW49 monitor reclaimed/deactivated sites in areas of erodible soils until successful plant cover re-establishment and long-term site stability have occurred;

Punch & Bore Crossing

Design

PUW50 ensure General BMPs and Standard Project Considerations have been consulted and appropriately applied prior to commencement of work;
PUW51 design the punch and bore path at a minimum 1 m depth below the watercourse to prevent the pipeline or cable from becoming exposed due to natural scouring of the stream bed;
PUW52 develop a response plan to be implemented immediately in the event of a sediment release or spill of a deleterious substance. This plan must include measures to:
  • stop work, contain sediment-laden water and other deleterious substances and prevent further migration into the watercourse;
  • notify all applicable authorities in the area (Environmental Emergency Management Plan Incident Reporting Hotline 1-800-663-3456; DFO Observe, Record and Report Hotline 1-800-465-4336);
  • document all incidents of frac-out, spills or release of deleterious substances that occur and submit them to the appropriate authorities upon completion of works
  • promptly clean-up and appropriately dispose of the sediment-laden water and deleterious substances; and,
  • ensure clean-up measures are suitably applied so as not to result in further alteration of the bed and/or banks of the watercourse.

Operational

PUW53 excavate bell holes beyond the top of bank, a minimum of 30 m from any watercourse to preserve riparian vegetation and allow containment of any sediment or deleterious substances;
PUW54 treat water and divert uncontaminated water into a vegetated area or settling basin to remove suspended solids and prevent sediment and other deleterious substances from entering the watercourse, when dewatering bell holes;
PUW55 stabilize any waste materials removed from the work site (including bell holes) above the ordinary high water mark (HWM), to prevent them from entering any watercourse;
PUW56 contain spoil piles with silt fence and flatten and covered with biodegradable mats or tarps and/or plant native grass or shrubs;
PUW57 monitor the watercourse for signs of potential malfunction during all phases of the work;
PUW58 keep on-site and readily accessible all material and equipment needed to contain and clean up releases of sediment-laden water and other deleterious substances for the duration of the work;

General Underwater Cable Crossing Activities

Design

PUW59 ensure General BMPs and Standard Project Considerations have been consulted and appropriately applied prior to commencement of work;
PUW60 avoid floodplains, meander bends, braided streams, alluvial fans and any other areas where bank stability may be a concern;
PUW61 protect natural function and features by avoiding critical fish and wildlife habitat areas;
PUW62 align cable crossing perpendicular to watercourse flow;
PUW63 inspect erosion and sediment control measures regularly during the course of construction to ensure they are functioning properly and make all necessary repairs if any damage occurs;

Operational

PUW64 isolate trench work (e.g. coffer dam) to contain suspended sediment and prevent it from entering the surrounding waters and causing Harmful Alteration, Disruption or Destruction (HADD) to the watercourse;
PUW65 relocate any natural woody material or boulders moved to facilitate the placement of cables as close to their original location as possible;
PUW66 ensure that fisheries Regional Timing Windows are adhered to prevent disruption to spawning fish and incubating eggs, if cables are buried within 10 m of the high water mark (HWM);
PUW67 operate machinery on land in a manner that minimizes disturbance to the banks or bed of the watercourse and riparian area; and,

Post Works Mitigation

PUW68 inspect erosion and sediment control measures regularly to ensure proper function and make all necessary repairs if any damage occurs;

Supportive Information

The following sources provide you with additional planning, design, implementation and review advice for a variety of project-specific activities. Please follow the appropriate links to obtain further information on your project specific activity.

General Considerations

Pacific Region Operational Statements Develop with Care: Environmental Guidelines for Urban and Rural Land Development in British Columbia, B.C. Ministry of Environment (PDF 842KB) Land Development Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Habitat (Section 5 and 6), DFO (PDF 2.93MB) A Guideline to Prepare Best Management Practices to Streamline DFO's Approval Process (PDF 765KB) Overhead Line Constructions, Pacific Region Operational Statement

Cable Crossing Design & Techniques

Underwater Cables, Pacific Region Operational Statement Guide to the Code of Practice for Pipelines and Telecommunication Lines Crossing a Water Body, Including Guidelines for Complying with the Code of Practice ((PDF 77.55KB) Oil and Gas Commission Stream Crossing Planning Guide (Northeast B.C.) (Word doc 298KB) Pipeline Associated Watercourse Crossings, 3rd Edition (PDF 4.48MB)Pipeline-Stream Crossings Watercourse Alteration Guidelines, Pipeline/Cable Crossings, New Brunswick Department of Environmental Management (PDF 1.3MB)

Minor Routine Maintenance of Public Utilities Additional Information

Approved Work Practices for Managing Riparian Vegetation, B.C. Transmission Corporation (PDF 1.71MB)

Riparian Vegetation Removal Additional Information

Maintenance of Riparian Vegetation in Existing Rights-of-Way, Pacific Region Operational Statement Rights of way Vegetation Management Plan, Fortis B.C. PDF 2.96MB) Riparian Areas and Revegetation, DFO Pacific Region Best Management Practices for Hazard Tree and Non-Hazard tree Limbing, Topping or Removal, B.C. Ministry of Environment (PDF 59KB) Develop with Care, Linear Developments Fact Sheet #3, B.C. Ministry of Environment (PDF 226KB) Integrated Vegetation Management Plan for Distribution Line Corridors, BC Hydro (PDF 297KB)
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.