Water Security Agency

Drainage Approvals Three Steps

Agricultural Water Management Success

Agricultural Water Management Success

Step One: Hire a Qualified Person

Qualified Persons are drainage experts. These professional engineers, professional agrologists, applied science technologists, certified technicians, and other experienced people recognized by the Water Security Agency, can help you prepare your drainage application. Few landowners have the time to learn the technical, legal and administrative requirements of drainage applications. Investing a few dollars per acre for expert help will pay off. 

Working With a Qualified Person Improves Success 

Even when a drainage project looks simple, it seldom is. Projects usually involve multiple pieces of land, legal land control, technical design and mapping. The services of a Qualified Person can reduce the time you invest in an approval. 

One of the things that makes agricultural water management projects complicated is that all interconnected drainage works should be included. By incorporating all the drainage networks landowners can efficiently obtain drainage approvals and neighbours can coordinate agricultural water management. 

Step Two: Prepare an Application 

You will need project plans, land control and the application form. The Qualified Person will help you map all the drainage works and develop a plan. Land control is permission for the approval holder to drain from his or her land, across, or onto, a parcel of land owned by another, or through ditches downstream to the outlet. The security of the drainage works approval depends on comprehensive information in the application, including all the land parcels involved. The experienced Qualified Person will complete and review the application form with you.

An Accurate Application Protects Your Drainage Works

The plans included with the application represent the drainage works to be approved, so they are very important. ‘If it’s not on the plan, it’s not approved.’

Land control serves as a form of protection against your neighbour complaining about water crossing their land. 

Step Three: Receive Approval

The Qualified Person will work closely with the Water Security Agency to assemble the requirements for an application and to gather all the landowner signatures. 

Drainage Approvals are Business Assets

Drainage approvals provide security, reduce risk and protect downstream neighbours from negative impacts. 

A registered approval remains on the title – even if the land is sold – for the term of the approval. Structures like flow throttles can manage broader impacts like downstream flooding, reduced water quality and habitat loss. As long as approval conditions are met drainage works can operate and you can manage water to optimize crops.


Are my drainage works ‘grandfathered’?

No. All drainage works require an approval. No works are grandfathered because all drainage works cause impacts, no matter when they were constructed.

My works drain into a Conservation and Development (C&D) ditch, so are my drainage works approved?

No. A C&D ditch may be approved, but all private drainage works which drain into it still require an approval.

Are drainage approvals necessary on my farm?

If you are a landowner who has drainage on your land then you most likely need a drainage approval. Drainage is any action taken, or intended, for the removal or lessening of the amount of water from land, and includes deepening, straightening, widening or diversion of the course of a stream, creek, or other watercourse, as well as the construction of dykes. For additional information on what qualifies as drainage see our What is Drainage Fact Sheet.