Wetlands are Key!
Wetlands play an important role in the watershed, acting as sponges by storing and slowly releasing water, and reducing the damaging effects of flooding and drought. They act as kidneys by filtering runoff and reducing the sediment load to lakes and rivers. Wetlands also recharge groundwater and provide diverse habitat for plants and animals.
It is not uncommon for new developments to encounter wetlands. Understanding the regulations and timelines associated with these situations is critical to ensuring projects can move forward with as little disruption as possible.
5 Things You Should Know If You Have a Wetland on Your Lease Site:
1. Avoidance: Wetlands should be avoided whenever possible, and lease sites positioned in a location with the least potential impact.
2. Approval: If a wetland cannot be avoided, then a Water Act Approval (WAA) is required for all permanent wetland disturbances. ‘Ephemeral’ waterbodies are not considered to be wetlands and are therefore exempt from WAA requirements.
3. Authenticating Professional (AP): All wetland assessments in Alberta must be completed by, or conducted under the supervision of, a Qualified Wetland Science Practitioner (QWSP). This is a specialized designation that ensures wetland assessments are completed in a scientifically rigorous manner.
4. Application: The Alberta Wetland Rapid Evaluation Tool-Actual (ABWRET-A) is used to evaluate relative wetland value, and each wetland is classified and delineated according to the Alberta Wetland Classification System and the Alberta Wetland Identification and Delineation Directive. A Public Lands Act Crown Claims Ownership Request must be submitted for wetlands on private land that are classified as semi-permanent or permanent. A Pre-Consultation Assessment Request must be completed and submitted with the WAA to determine if First Nation Consultation (FNC) is required. A Wetland Assessment and Impact Report (WAIR) must be completed for a WAA.
5. Acceptance: Once the WAA is prepared and submitted by an AP it takes approximately 180 days to be reviewed and, if approved, receive the Approval documentation. Only after receiving this documentation can work commence within a wetland.
Still not sure what to do, or need support with obtaining a Water Act Approval? Our team at AJM is here to support you!