Here's a list of some of our most Frequently Asked Questions
Which regulations tell me what I can and cannot do on shorelines and lands adjacent to the lake?
The lake itself is regulated by two Federal Acts: the Fisheries Act and the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Itis also governed by the Public Lands Act in Alberta. The shoreline and adjacent lands are covered under the Water Act, Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) and the Safety Codes Act (for private sewage system standards). Some local bylaws may also apply under the Municipal Government Act.
What can I bring in to stop my shoreline erosion?
While many people may believe that large, solid objects in a waterbody will prevent erosion of the shoreline, the best form of protection is natural vegetation. Plants shelter the shoreline from wave and wind erosion and the roots help hold the soil in place. Changes to your shoreline like bringing in sand, rock, or concrete require approval from Public Lands, the Water Act and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (for fish-bearing waters). Get in touch with the LSWC for more information about protecting and restoring shorelines! There may be funding available to help support the project!
Can I remove weeds from the water in front of my property?
Removing or cutting aquatic plants can have serious impacts on the quality of fish resources within a lake. In a fish bearing, it is an illegal activity under the Fisheries Act. Aquatic plants are necessary for some fish and also create the foundation for the lake ecosystem. In order to rake plants out of the water, an approval issues under the Public Lands Act and the Water Act must be obtained. Proposals that may involve fish bearing waters will also require a Federal Fisheries staff consultation and approval. If the plant species you wish to remove is a known invasive species, it can be removed without a permit from the shoreline.
Does my property go right to the water's edge?
Most properties do NOT include the shoreline. Legislation defines the shore as part of the lakebed that is exposed when water level is not at its highest level. The line where private properties end and where the bed and shore of a waterbody begin is called the legal bank, forming a distinct line from where the water normally meets the land edge. This means that land between the lake and the 'normal high water mark' is Crown land and owned by the Government of Alberta. In some cases, the municipality owns a strip of land between private properties and the high water mark called Environmental Reserve.
Does my septic system have to conform to a specific standard?
Yes. Municipalities have regulations that govern construction and maintenance of septic systems. Septic tanks have to follow the Provincial Codes Act. Ensuring that your system conforms to certain standards helps minimize wastes potentially reaching the lake, which have many negative impacts on the health of the water and ecosystem. Learn more here: https://www.alberta.ca/private-sewage-design-tools
Can my livestock use the river or lake?
It is strongly recommended that other watering options for livestock are used. Watering livestock directly out of a lake can result in excess nutrients and fecal bacteria contamination and trampling or damaging riparian areas. A watering system away from the waterbody helps to protect water quality and reduces erosion. To find out more information about alternative watering systems and grazing strategies, visit: https://www.lswc.ca/watershed_resiliency
What activities trigger the Water Act?
Landowners are required to apply for a Water Act approval when the activity they'd like to do will impact a waterbody including temporary wetlands and streams) or diverts groundwater and surface water. The Government of Alberta and the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) will provide approvals and licenses and monitor and regulate codes of practice as laid out in the Water Act.
The definition of a waterbody is as follows:
“Water” means all water on or under the surface of the ground, whether in liquid or solid state;
“Water body” means any location where water flows or is present, whether or not the flow or the presence of water is continuous, intermittent or occurs only during a flood, and includes but is not limited to wetlands and aquifers but does not include except for clause (nn) and section 99 “water body” that is part of an irrigation works if the irrigation works is subject to a licence and the irrigation works is owned by the licensee, unless the regulations specify that the location is included in the definition of water body;
Activities can include, but are not limited to:
- Stream crossings
- Water diversions
- Draining wetlands
- And more
Water Act Resources:
- Government of Alberta Water Act Essentials for Landowners
- Canadian Laws and Governance Policies
- Relevant Alberta Legislation
- Wetland Policy
- Water Act Facts at your Fingertips
What is a Wetland?
Wetlands are defined as land that is saturated with water long enough to promote wetland or aquatic processes as indicated by poorly drained soils, vegetation and other biological activity adapted to a wet environment. (National Wetlands Working Group 1997).
Our friends at the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute created an amazing resources focused on wetlands of Alberta. Learn about the different kinds of wetlands found across the province, pressures impacting their survival, and about the species that call wetlands home. Check it out here: https://wetland-report.abmi.ca/atlas-home
Who should I contact if I saw an environmental risk or concern?
We have folks approach us all the time about issues they're seeing in the watershed. Unfortunately, we are only a non-profit, charitable organization, with no power or legislative teeth. We direct people to contact the Environmental Hotline with photos, and any information they might have about the concern. Government of Alberta staff are supposed to look into claims with evidence and investigate to find a solution. You can learn more about the Environmental Hotline here: https://www.alberta.ca/energy-and-environmental-response-line.
To contact the Environmental Hotline, call:
- 24-Hour Response Line (toll-free within Alberta): 1-800-222-6514
- Calling from outside of Alberta: 780-422-4505
How can I prevent excess water on my property?
One way to prevent excess water in a high water or flood year is to have a designated place on your property for water capture and retention. By developing areas that may be low-lying or poor draining into established wetland areas can be beneficial not only in wet years, but can also provide habitat for wildlife, and support your property in times of drought. Funding is available to support projects across the landscape to help make a more resilient watershed, prevent issues in times of floods and droughts, and increase biodiversity overall. It is time to work with the land and not against it where possible!