Wetland Application Process
The Wetland Regulatory Requirements Guide outlines the requirements from applicable legislation (i.e., Water Act, Public Lands Act, EPEA) and wetland directives for carrying out an activity in a wetland.
To ensure regulatory applications regarding wetlands are complete and consistent throughout the province, Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) has developed a Wetland Application Checklist. The checklist along with the regulatory process diagram describe the stages for applications and what is required from the applicant and the regulatory body at each stage. At all Stages of the application process the applicant should avoid the wetland(s) if possible.
Stage 1 - Planning and Legislative Alignment
- At this stage the applicant will verify ownership of the land through the Land Title and obtain written consent from the landowner to perform the proposed activity.
- If the land is owned by the Crown under Section 3 of the Public Lands Act the Government of Alberta owns the bed and shores of most permanent and naturally occurring bodies of water. A wetland permanence assessment will need to be conducted to determine ownership (Stage 2).
- Preliminary Wetland Identification and Delineation:
- The applicant needs to complete a preliminary assessment to identify and delineate the wetlands according to the Alberta Wetland Identification and Delineation Directive.
- The applicant submits a polygon shapefile to AEP and obtains a preliminary estimate of wetland value from the regulator (ABWRET-E).
- Legislative Alignment:
- The applicant must ensure they meet the legislative requirements (as outlined in the Wetland Regulatory Requirements Guide) and relevant Watershed Management Plans and Land Use Framework Regional Plans requirements have been met.
- In addition to the legislative requirements applicants should conduct background searches of relevant databases (i.e., FWMIS, ACIMS, SARA registry) and consult with First Nations if applicable.
- The applicant may choose to meet with to meet with regulators from the relevant agencies to discuss planning and alignment of the project with legislation.
- Preliminary Meeting
- At this stage the applicant can choose to set up a preliminary planning and alignment meeting with regulators from the appropriate agencies to discuss the project.
Stage 2 - Wetland Assessment
- Public Lands Act Crown Claims Ownership Assessment
- A QWAP (Qualified Wetland Assessment Practitioner) will complete a historical wetland permanence assessment using the Guide for Assessing Permanence of Wetland Basins to determine the possibility of crown ownership for wetlands in the project area.
- Wetland Assessment Impact Report (WAIR)
- A QWSP (Qualified Wetland Science Practitioner) will complete a Wetland Assessment and Impact Report (WAIR) for each wetland that will be impacted by the project. The WAIR must be completed according to the Alberta Wetland Assessment and Impact Report Directive.
- The QWSP will assess the wetland using ABWRET-A (Alberta Wetland Rapid Evaluation Tool-Actual) to evaluate the relative wetland value on site and classify and delineate the wetland according to the Alberta Wetland Classification System and the Alberta Wetland Identification and Delineation Directive.
- Any other water quality and species surveys required will need to be completed at this stage.
Stage 3 - Application Submission
- The applicant submits all regulatory applications (i.e., EPEA, Water Act, Public Lands Act).
- The applicant must provide relevant stormwater management plans, WAIR, Avoidance and Minimization Plan, and a Wetland Replacement plan when relevant.
- At this stage the Director will decide to either issue the respective approvals or refuse the application.
Stage 4 - Wetland Restorative Replacement
- This stage is relevant when the applicant proposes permittee based wetland replacement.
- The applicant must design plans according to the Alberta Wetland Mitigation Directive and propose a monitoring plan.
Government of Alberta. 2015. Wetland Regulatory Requirements Guide. Accessed online at: http://www.waterforlife.alberta.ca/documents/RegulatoryRequirementsGuide-Jun01-2015.pdf.
Government of Alberta. 2015. Wetland Application Checklist. Accessed online at: http://www.waterforlife.alberta.ca/documents/ApplicationChecklist-Jun01-2015.pdf.
Government of Alberta. 2015. Wetland Regulatory Process Diagram. Accessed online at: http://www.waterforlife.alberta.ca/documents/RegulatoryProcessDiagramJun01-2015.pdf.