Water Programs

Aquatic Habitat Protection


The Aquatic Habitat Protection Program protects aquatic habitat from impacts that may arise from development projects or activities, large or small, that are conducted in or near water in Saskatchewan.  Poorly designed, constructed or timed development projects and associated construction practices can result in aquatic habitat degradation from a range of impacts such as erosion and sedimentation, loss of aquatic and riparian vegetation and substrate alteration. 

Similarly, development projects can affect water quality through the addition of chemicals, oil, gasoline, sediments, herbicides, fertilizer or other hazardous substances, any of which may result in the loss or degradation of aquatic habitat that supports the organisms living there or using the area. 

Building materials used in project construction may be harmful or toxic to aquatic organisms.  Some projects and the associated building materials can reduce natural habitat diversity by replacing natural shorelines and substrates with less diverse man-made structures.  The combined effect of many small harmful alterations can degrade or destroy large areas of habitat, resulting in the gradual decline of aquatic organism populations.  Aquatic Habitat Protection Permits are intended to provide guidance to protect aquatic habitat that is vulnerable from a variety of potential development related threats.

In 2014, the province of Saskatchewan renewed the Environmental Management and Protection Act, 2010 (EMPA) to protect and reduce impacts to our environment.  One aspect of The Environmental Management and Protection (General) Regulations, 2010, was to continue a permitting process that allows individuals and corporations to carry out their development activities in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner.  The need to obtain an Aquatic Habitat Protection Permit before conducting work in or near water is an important component of this legislation.

Aquatic Habitat Protection Program Goals

The primary goal of the Aquatic Habitat Protection Program is to ensure aquatic habitat is preserved and maintained at the productive level which existed prior to the development activities by:

  • Preventing temporary and permanent habitat alteration;
  • Preventing increased soil erosion and sedimentation;
  • Preventing impacts associated with construction timing and development activities on aquatic organisms and Species at Risk;
  • Preventing the discharge of chemicals, oil, gasoline and other contaminants into water; and
  • Protecting aquatic and riparian vegetation and other aquatic habitats.


There are a variety of ways sediment can be introduced into a water body.  Disturbance of vegetation or other stabilizing soil cover often results in erosion of the exposed soils.  Fine particles can also be released from some mechanical processes such as mining or rock crushing.  These sediments can cover the small spaces between rock or gravel particles preventing the free flow of oxygenated water, in addition to reducing the functionality and diversity of bottom substrates. Increased levels of sediment displace aquatic organisms from prime habitat into less suitable areas, for example, aquatic invertebrate shelter areas between cobble and gravel particles are eliminated.   Sediment suspended in the water reduces the penetration of sunlight to plants on the lake bottom. 

The aquatic vegetation and submerged rock found along shorelines not only provides cover and shelter for many small species of fish, insects and other invertebrates, but also maintains substrate stability and helps to reduce shoreline erosion by breaking wave action.  Trees, shrubs and grasses and their supporting root structure found along a bank also help protect the shoreline.

By using appropriate building materials, project designs and timing, development impacts can be minimized during every phase of the construction project, resulting in the protection of aquatic habitat.

Do I Require A Permit?

AHHP

Any work that occurs in the bed (that portion of water body covered by water), bank (the rising ground bordering a water body that serves to confine the water to the channel or bed) or boundary (the end of the riparian zone) of a water body or watercourse, or any discharge with adverse effects on water, is subject to The Environmental Management and Protection Act, 2010, and requires that an Aquatic Habitat Protection Permit is obtained prior to beginning work.  Work conducted on water bodies or watercourses that are wholly contained on private land, owned by one individual that does not flow into other surface waters are exempt from the permit requirement.

Types of work that require an Aquatic Habitat Protection Permit include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Road developments such as culvert and bridge installation; maintenance and removal; low-level crossings; ford crossings; and temporary crossings;
  • Shoreline stabilization (includes retaining walls);
  • Recreational developments such as permanent crib-docks; beaches; boat launches; boat houses; lake access trails; marinas; breakwaters; and boardwalks;
  • Riparian and aquatic vegetation removal;
  • Water conveyance projects such as channel clearing; channelization; wetland infilling/drainage; existing drainage ditch maintenance; and construction of new ditches; and
  • Water use infrastructure such as pumphouses; water intakes; and waterline development.


Industry Specific Permits

The Water Security Agency is responsible for issuing Aquatic Habitat Protection Permits to clients for development projects around water that typically only require approval from legislation administered by the WSA (ie. Environmental Management and Protection Act, 2010 and the Water Security Agency Act)

Industrial development is regulated through a number of different branches within the Ministry of Environment.  Industrial projects tend to be rather large, requiring various environmental regulatory approvals.  In such instances, Aquatic Habitat Protection Permits are typically issued by the Ministry of Environmental Specialist as part of a larger environmental approval. The Ministry of Environment branches responsible for issuing the Aquatic Habitat Protection Permit are:

Forest Service – The Forestry Industry

Environmental Protection – Industrial Waste; Mining Industry

Landscape Stewardship – The Oil & Gas Industry; Linear Developments (telephone and power lines); new road construction on Crown Land; work done on WHPA lands; and Mineral Exploration.

Applications may be forwarded to another Provincial Agency or Ministry for review when proposed projects may require other Provincial regulatory approval.  The WSA will notify the applicant when this has occurred.

Application Procedure

  • Please ensure that your application is submitted well in advance of the proposed start date. Application review may take up to 12 weeks.
  • For proposed work during the peak period (May-October) early application (November-April) submission may also result in expedited application review, resulting in fewer project delays.
  • You can submit applications by email, fax, mail or in person.
  • To apply for an Aquatic Habitat Protection Permit, complete the application form and submit with attached maps, photographs, plans, sketches and drawings to the appropriate reviewer below.
  • To determine the reviewing Specialist, please locate your proposed project on the WSA Aquatic Habitat Protection Zones Map (below).  Permit applicants may submit their applications by email, fax, mail or in person. 
  • Incomplete applications will not be reviewed and will be returned to the applicant. 

 

Please keep in mind that approval from one government agency does not imply or guarantee approval from another agency.  Other federal, provincial or municipal agencies may have legal requirements that affect how to proceed with projects in and around water.  It is your responsibility to obtain all required approvals before starting work.

The Water Security Agency and/or the Ministry of Environment Conservation Officers may conduct site inspections before, during or after proposed construction.

AHPP Regions and Offices

 

Zone

Aquatic Habitat Protection Permit Reviewer

Northwest and Northeast

Ben Wilson , Aquatic Habitat Protection Specialist
Water Quality and Habitat Assessment Services
Suite 101-108 Research Drive
Saskatoon, SK S7N 3R3
Tel: 306.933.7413
Fax: 306.933.6820
Email ben.wilson@wsask.ca

East Central

Robin Tod, Aquatic Habitat Protection Specialist
Water Quality and Habitat Assessment Services
Suite 420-2365 Albert Street
Regina, SK S4P 4K1
Tel: 306.787.0382
Fax: 306.787.0028
Email robin.tod@wsask.ca

Southwest

John Salamon, Aquatic Habitat Protection Specialist
Water Quality and Habitat Assessment Services
Suite 101-108 Research Drive
Saskatoon, SK S7N 3R3
Tel: 306.933-7653
Fax: 306.933.6820
Email: john.salamon@wsask.ca

Southeast

Tanya Johnston, Supervisor, Aquatic Habitat Protection
Water Quality and Habitat Assessment Services
Suite 420-2365 Albert Street
Regina, SK S4P 4K1
Tel: 306.787-2467
Fax: 306.787.0028
Email: tanya.johnston@wsask.ca