Water Security Agency Act

Res #: 29-14A
Number: 29
Year: 2014
Midterm: No
Expired: Yes
Responses Received: No
Departments: Water Security Agency

WHEREAS many municipalities incur damages to municipal infrastructure caused by illegal water drainage works; and

WHEREAS the drainage works often cause significant financial loss to municipal and private property; and

WHEREAS the timeframe for the Water Security Agency to investigate a complaint and act upon it is often lengthy; and

WHEREAS in many circumstances there is an obvious contravention of The Water Security Agency Act;

BE IT RESOLVED that the Province give Water Security Agency representatives the authority to verbally order corrective action for immediate compliance under The Water Security Agency Act.


Unauthorized drainage is a complex issue with significant impacts, including flooding, erosion, sedimentation and water quality concerns which can occur downstream.  The drainage complaint process is prescribed in The Water Security Agency Act and although the process is often complex and time consuming, the outcomes can be challenged at the Water Appeal Board and in the courts.  As a result, the complaint process often takes longer than the involved parties anticipate.

When investigating drainage issues, certain factors need to be confirmed before an Order can be issued.  The date of construction needs to be confirmed since pre-1981 ditches are generally exempt from the approval process.  The issue of damages needs to be confirmed.  In cases where there are no damages from the works, and the project meets other conditions such as land control requirements, then having an approved ditch would be preferable to a closed ditch.  And in other situations, the call for a gated control on the drainage ditch, to ensure flows do not add to downstream flooding, may be an option to resolve the issue. In these cases attempts to deal with drainage through the approval process is preferable to issuing an Order.  However, in situations involving a risk to public safety and other urgent circumstances, Orders to deal with illegal works are issued promptly.

The WSA has certainly heard concerns about the complexity of the process.  In its 25 Year Water Security Plan, the provincial government committed to developing new drainage regulations.  As part of this work, the WSA is consulting on the drainage issue through its On- Line Drainage Forum, which provides an opportunity for participants to discuss vru·ious ways to improve drainage practices (such as licensing the drainer).  More than 400 people are participating in the forum and consultations will be complete at the end of April.

Information from the forum and other forms of consultation will be used by the WSA as it develops proposals for new drainage legislation and regulations.  The WSA expects the new regulations will be results-based and allow for more effective enforcement in problem areas. Some of the enforcement options that will be considered include financial penalties and quicker enforcement, including the opportunity to issue immediate orders to close unlicensed drainage works.  The WSA plans further consultation with stakeholders  when the legislative proposals are complete.