Water Security Aquatic Habitat Protection Permits

Res #: 24-19A
Number: 24
Year: 2019
Midterm: No
Expired: No
Responses Received: Yes
Departments: Water Security Agency

WHEREAS when rural municipalities are planning to proceed with any bridge construction on any named waterways they must make application to the Water Security Agency for an Aquatic Habitat Protection Permit;

WHEREAS according to the Water Security Agency, the target for reviewing permit applications is 45 days but they allow up to 12 weeks and rural municipality applications are considered to be a priority;

WHEREAS some municipalities are frustrated that these targets are not begin met by the Water Security Agency and their construction projects have had to be delayed until the next year as the permits were approved after freeze up;

BE IT RESOLVED that SARM inform the Water Security Agency (WSA) that the 45 day target for reviewing Aquatic Habitat Protection Permit applications is not being met for all rural municipalities;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the WSA consider hiring more staff during peak times for the year to keep up with the backlog of Aquatic Habitat Protection Permit applications.

Responses From: The Water Security Agency

April 30, 2019

Over the last couple years, the Water Security Agency (WSA) changed the Aquatic Habitat Protection Program to address rural municipality (RM) concerns with the timeliness of application approvals. This includes triaging and prioritizing RM applications, developing blanket permits for low-risk culvert installations, and other streamlining tools, like fact sheets, to minimize the overall number of applications received by the program and improve turnaround times on projects posing the greatest risk to aquatic habitat.

Through these efforts, WSA has better met its client service standards; however, we recognize we can still improve. We are currently developing additional information products to guide RMs, as well as additional tools to manage low risk activities, and we are changing the way we receive and screen applications, all to better meet our clients' needs. To suppo1t these initiatives, we have added an additional full-time position to the program and will continue to bring on seasonal help during the busy summer months.

Despite these best efforts, sometimes the overall approval time will take longer that the posted 45- day service standard. In many cases, these circumstances are beyond the control of WSA. For example, some projects require referral to other regulatory agencies or must be returned to the client for additional information. While these situations do not increase the time spent on the file by WSA, they often do get perceived as delays in WSA's process. To address these concerns, we are refocussing some of our education and outreach activities with RMs to encourage better planning in advance of an application. We are also improving our application forms to get all the necessary information on our first contact with the client.

Susan B. Ross – President and CEO