Minor Works and Waters Order (Navigable Waters Protection Act)
Amendments to the Navigable Waters Protection Act came into force on March 12, 2009 as part of the federal government's initiative to accelerate major resource and infrastructure projects. These amendments streamline the federal review process by establishing classes of waters and works (projects) that do not require an Application or Approval through the NWPP because they are "minor" in nature.
The following specific classes of minor navigable waters are incorporated into the amendments to the NWPA (section 13) by means of the Minor Works and Waters (Navigable Waters Protection Act) Order:
- private lakes
- artificial irrigation channels and drainage ditches
- minor navigable waters
1. Private Lakes
Private lakes refer to lakes that measure 5 hectares or less in area and must meet the following established criteria in order to be exempt from the application provisions of the NWPA:
- All land abutting the navigable water is owned by one person or company other than the federal or provincial government.
- No navigable waters enter or exit the lake.
- There is no current or past public access to the lake.
- There are no easements or servitudes that allow access to the lake.
Works proposed on these private lakes may proceed without application under section 5 of the NWPA. Contact your regional NWPP office if you have questions or concerns about works on private lakes.
2. Artificial Irrigation Channels and Drainage Ditches
Many navigable waters across Canada were constructed or created specifically for the purposes of moving surface water for either agricultural irrigation or surface water drainage. While some of these navigable waters may yield significant flows, Transport Canada recognizes that most of these small channels were never intended for navigation.
A navigable water meeting the definitions of either "irrigation channel" or "drainage ditch" and outlined in the Order (section 12) is not subject to the application process under the NWPA. However, navigable water that has an average width of 3.00 m or more or a natural river or water body that has been converted to an irrigation channel or drainage ditch is not subject to this class exemption.
3. Minor Navigable Waters
TC has established five navigable water characteristics to be used in determining whether or not a particular navigable water meets the definition of a minor navigable water. If a section of navigable water is classified as minor, an application for approval under the NWPA is not required for any work on that section.
The five TC navigable water characteristics are:
- average depth,
- average width,
- channel slope,
- sinuosity ratio, and
- frequency of natural obstacles.
For more information on how to determine if your Water is a Minor Navigable Water, contact your nearest NWPP office. The NWPP officer will conduct a review. Or call toll-free 1-877-842-5606 At your service.
You may also refer to the Minor Works and Waters User Guide.
Drainage Ditch: An artificial trench solely intended for the purposes of receiving and conducting surface and ground water that has an average width of less than 3.00 metres (m) and excludes any natural lake, river, reservoir, etc.
High-water level: The level at which a navigable water begins to overflow its natural banks.
Irrigation Channel: An artificial canal or supply channel solely intended for conveying water from a source supply for agricultural purposes that has an average width of less than 3.00 m and excludes any natural lake, river, reservoir, etc.
Natural obstacle: A natural physical obstruction in navigable waters, such as a beaver dam, a deadfall, a steep drop or thick vegetation that prevents the passage of a vessel.
Sections of navigable waters: 200 m long sections of navigable waters which may be continuous.
Sinuosity ratio of navigable waters: The ratio of the length of the centre line of the navigable waters to the length of a straight line that starts and ends at the same points as the centre line.
Slope of navigable waters: The differential elevation of the water surface from the upstream end of the centre line of the navigable waters to the downstream end of that line.
Minor Works and Waters (Navigable Waters Protection Act) Order
As a part of the revised amended Navigable Waters Protection Act (March 12, 2009 Royal Assent), specific classes of Minor Works and Minor Navigable Waters were published in the Canada Gazette Part I on May 9, 2009, entitled Minor Works and Waters (Navigable Waters Protection Act) Ministerial Order.
The Order came into force on June 7, 2009.
Specific design and placement criteria for each defined Minor Work and Minor Navigable Water is outlined in the Ministerial Order. Failure to construct the work in accordance with the criteria outlined in Ministerial Order referenced in section 13 of the NWPA may result in enforcement action. We encourage you to keep checking the Navigable Waters Protection Program website for updated information on Minor Works and Minor Navigable Waters.
In the meantime, the following documents are available for downloading or viewing:
- Minor Works and Waters (Navigable Waters Protection Act) Order
- Canada Gazette, Part I, Vol. 143, No. 19 (PDF Version, 393 kb)
To access the Portable Document Format (PDF) version you must have a PDF reader installed. If you do not already have such a reader, there are numerous PDF readers available for free download or for purchase on the Internet:
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