Lower risk drainage projects to be exempt from approval process

Drainage and water-control projects that present lower risk and impact to the environment would move faster and more efficiently through the provincial approval process under draft regulations the Manitoba government has put out for public consultations.

Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires announced November 29 certain water projects would be exempted from departmental approval requirements, under the regulatory changes planned.

“The proposed Water Rights Regulation reduces red tape for drainage and water retention works while increasing protection for Manitoba wetlands, which play a critical role in the health of our environment,” Squires said.

The changes, including setting fees to reflect the true costs of project application reviews, are being made in response to the request of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities that the province improve the approval process for drainage licencing proposals.

Squires said the streamlined drainage approvals intends to protect wetlands through effective surface water management by maintaining water retention capacity and reducing nutrient loading in watersheds.

“The shift toward streamlined drainage approvals at no net loss of wetlands will reinforce our ability to manage water in a sustainable way.”

Other regulatory changes include:

  • harmonizing approvals for projects that require a licence under The Environment Act
  • providing consistent regulatory regimes for drainage and water-control projects including a new streamlined registration process for applications and approvals
  • reducing red tape by providing timely registration and licencing approvals
  • ensuring departmental focus on reviewing higher-risk and higher-impact projects
  • increasing flexibility on requirements for downstream landowner approvals
  • strengthening linkages between watershed plans, municipal planning bylaws and land use decision-making among communities
  • increasing protection of seasonal, semi-permanent and permanent wetlands by requiring compensation for higher-impact projects

The provincial government is seeking feedback until January 19, 2019. Submissions can be emailed to or mailed to:

Attention: Drainage Consultation
Manitoba Sustainable Development
Box 16 – 200 Saulteaux Cres.
Winnipeg, MB R3J 3W3

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