Alberta Wetland Policy Implementation

Update – December 22, 2017

Included in this update are:

  • ABWRET-D Status
  • Activities Regulated by the Alberta Energy Regulator
  • Alberta Wetland Assessment and Impact Form

The following documents will be provided as they become available:

  • Alberta Wetland Construction Directive
  • Alberta Wetland Construction Guide
Inverted pyramid diagram with three levels: Avoid, Minimize and Replace

Wetland Mitigation Hierarchy

Regulatory applicants are expected to demonstrate appropriate consideration for avoidance and, where avoidance is not feasible, minimization of wetland impacts, in accordance with the Alberta Wetland Policy and Wetland Mitigation Directive.

  1. Alberta Wetland Policy– Sep 2013 (26 pages, <1 MB)
  2. Alberta Wetland Mitigation Directive- Jun 1, 2017 (13 pages, <1 MB)

Where an authorized activity has an explicit requirement to reclaim the impacted wetland area back to wetland, the applicant will not be subject to wetland replacement requirements.

Where permanent wetland impacts will be incurred, the directive outlines wetland replacement options.

Questions related to activities within a wetland that are regulated by Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) can be submitted to:

Questions related to energy activities within a wetland can be submitted to:

Overview of the Wetland Application Process

Under the Alberta Wetland Policy, avoidance must be considered at all three stages in the regulatory process, as illustrated in the figure below. It is the onus of the applicant to avoid wetland impacts during Stages 1 and 2 of the planned activity, and to justify wetland impacts where avoidance is not practicable within the Wetland Assessment and Impact Report or Form. The regulator may require wetland avoidance at Stage 3, the application submission and analysis stage, particularly if there is a regulatory requirement that triggers avoidance (see Wetland Mitigation Directive).

Wetland Regulatory Process Diagram


Stage 1, 2 and 3 of the Wetland Application Process

1. Planning and Legislative Alignment Stage

The first step of this stage is to perform a preliminary desktop review of ownership, identify potential wetlands, and to consider how wetland avoidance can be achieved in the planning and design of the proposed activity.

The next step is to determine what regulatory authorizations and/or notifications are needed in order to conduct the activity, and to conduct a review of legislation that needs to be met for the activity, including Acts, regulations, policies and plans under federal, provincial and municipal jurisdiction.

The following authorizations are required when a proposed activity may have impacts on a wetland(s):

  • A Public Lands Disposition, where the activity that may impact a wetland is either located on public land or is a permanent and naturally occurring water body under Section 3 of the Public Lands Act
  • A Water Act Authorization (Approval, Licence, or Notice)
  • An Authorization under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, where the proposed activity that will impact a wetland is regulated by this Act

The following documents support the planning of an activity that may impact a wetland:

  1. Alberta Wetland Mitigation Directive- Jun 1, 2017 (13 pages, <1 MB)
  2. Wetland Application Checklist- Sep 2015 (7 pages, <1 MB)
  3. Wetland Regulatory Requirements Guide- Jun 1, 2015 (7 pages, <1 MB)
  4. Alberta Wetland Identification and Delineation Directive- Jun 1, 2015 (60 pages, 4.9 MB)
  5. Guide for Assessing Permanence of Wetland Basins
  6. Alberta Merged Wetland Inventory (AMWI)
  7. Relative Wetland Value Map

Questions related to activities that are regulated by AEP can be submitted to:

Questions related to energy activities within a wetland can be submitted to:

2. Wetland Assessment Stage

A suite of guides and tools has been developed by AEP to support standardized wetland assessment methods by professionals. Any wetland assessment submitted to the regulatory body must be signed by an authenticating professional in accordance with "Professional Responsibilities in the Completion and Assurance of Wetland Science, Design and Engineering Work in Alberta".

Wetland Application Checklist

The Wetland Application Checklist should be reviewed before submitting an application to ensure the application is complete and meets the Policy’s requirements.

Wetland Assessment Overview

Applicants proposing an activity that will impact a wetland must submit a wetland assessment to the regulator as part of their application.

Alberta Wetland Assessment and Impact Report (WAIR)

For the majority of activities that may impact a wetland, a qualified professional or team must prepare a Wetland Assessment and Impact Report in accordance with the Alberta Wetland Assessment and Impact Report Directive. The report must be signed by an authenticating professional and submitted as part of the regulatory application(s) in stage 3 below.

Alberta Wetland Assessment and Impact Form (WAIF)

The Alberta Wetland Assessment and Impact Form is used to support low risk activities regulated by AEP and the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER). For eligible activities, the form is to be used in place of the Wetland Assessment and Impact Report and must be submitted with a regulatory application(s) or notification.

Alberta Wetland Identification and Delineation Directive

This Directive provides guidance on how to identify a wetland and delineate its ecological extent. The template is used to create the wetland shapefile.

Alberta Wetland Classification System

The Alberta Wetland Classification System groups wetlands into five major classes – bogs, fens, swamps, marshes and shallow open water – based on common physical, chemical and biological characteristics. The system subdivides each class by their vegetative form (e.g. dominated by trees, shrubs, grass-like plants, aquatic plants) and type (e.g. water permanence, pH, salinity).

Alberta Wetland Rapid Evaluation Tool – Actual (ABWRET-A)

ABWRET-A is a standardized method for assessing the function of wetlands using on-site observations and off-site spatial data, and which determines the relative value of a wetland. The relative value can be used to inform avoidance of high-value wetlands as well as replacement ratios where avoidance of wetland impacts is not possible.

There are two tools calibrated to broad regions in Alberta; one for the Parkland and Prairie Natural Regions and a second for the Boreal and Foothills Natural Regions. Use the appropriate guide and form determined by the location of the wetland(s) on the landscape. The forms must be completed by visiting the wetland during the growing season.

Parkland and Prairie Natural Region Wetlands

Boreal and Foothills Natural Region Wetlands

To obtain the relative wetland value, submit the completed ABWRET-A Form and Wetland Extent Shapefile(s) to:

Alberta Wetland Rapid Evaluation Tool – Desktop (ABWRET-D)

A desktop-based Alberta Wetland Rapid Evaluation Tool (ABWRET-D) is being developed to support wetland evaluation for eligible activities that require a Wetland Assessment and Impact Form. Until ABWRET-D is released, the relative wetland value determined by ABWRET-A must be used for permanent impacts.

To obtain the relative wetland value using ABWRET-A, applicants must complete the wetland field assessment during the growing season as described in the section above. For all eligible activities that have temporary wetland impacts, the relative wetland value will not be required until ABWRET-D is released.

Questions related to activities regulated by AEP can be submitted to:

Questions related to energy activities within a wetland can be submitted to:

3. Application Submission Stage

Activities Regulated by Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP)

An activity that may impact a wetland requires either a Water Act Authorization or a Code of Practice Notice.

For a Code of Practice Notice, a Wetland Assessment and Impact Form is submitted with the Notification to the regulator for marsh and shallow open water classes.

For any activity potentially impacting a wetland that requires a Public Lands Act disposition, Applicants must submit their application package, including a Water Act application and a Wetland Assessment and Impact Report or Form, through Electronic Disposition System (EDS).

At present, only the following Public Lands Act dispositions are submitted partly as a paper application with all the required documentation, and should be submitted by email rather than EDS:

  • Recreation Lease (REC)
  • Surface Material Exploration (SME)
  • Surface Material Licence (SMC)

For information on how to submit a Public Lands Act disposition application, please see:

If the activity only triggers a Water Act or Code of Practice, then applications and notifications are submitted directly to the Regulatory Approvals Centre (RAC).

The following documents and links support the application submission stage.

AEP Application Processes and Forms

  1. Electronic Disposition System
    Online Public Lands Act application process (also used when there are Public Lands Act and Water Act requirements; choose the "Application for Surface Disposition" to apply for new public land dispositions or "Amendment for Surface Disposition" to apply to amend existing public land dispositions)
  2. Water Act Forms

Questions may be directed to:

Activities Regulated by the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER)

Existing regulatory requirements for activities that may impact a wetland continue to apply under the Water Act, Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, and Public Lands Act as regulated by AEP and the AER. Effective January 2, 2018, the AER has implemented a new authorizations process to implement the Alberta Wetland Policy. For guidance on AER regulated projects, please see AER Bulletin 2017-19 for more information.

AER Application Processes and Forms

  1. Public Lands Act
    Public Land Disposition Process on left menu bar
  2. Environmental Protection & Enhancement Act
    Forms & Guides on left menu bar
  3. Water Act
    Forms & Guides on left menu bar

Questions related to Alberta Wetland Policy implementation for energy activities within a wetland can be submitted to:

Professional Responsibilities in Completion and Assurance of Wetland Science, Design, and Engineering Work in Alberta

Since May 1, 2017, AEP requires signoff of an authenticating professional on regulatory documents submitted under the Alberta Wetland Policy.

Show All

The Practice Standards

AEP and ten Professional Regulatory Organizations (PRO-10) collaboratively developed and agreed upon a common set of standards that define the responsibilities and requirements for authenticating professionals in the province. Requirements to become an authenticating professional are set forth in:

The Practice Standards do not recognize experience gained prior to obtaining professional designation. Individuals must have valid experience and be registered with one of the PRO-10 within the past five years, and prior to March 31, 2018, to apply to AEP under the Transition Period Directive.

Questions may be directed to:

Replacement Program

The following documents support the deveIopment of the Province’s replacement program. In the future, authenticating professionals will have the ability to execute a replacement project according to the requirements of the Alberta Wetland Restoration Directive and the Professional Responsibilities in Completion and Assurance of Wetland Science, Design and Engineering Work in Alberta.

Disclaimer

The information on these web pages was created to be consistent with Legislation, Policies, Orders in Council, Ministerial Orders, Treaties/Agreements, Frameworks, Strategies, Plans, Codes of Practice and other approved documents which provide direction on implementing legislation. If there is inconsistency between the regulatory documents and this information, the regulatory documents shall prevail.

Contact

Please continue to visit this web page for further updates on the Alberta Wetland Policy implementation process.

Questions related to activities that are regulated by AEP can be submitted to:

Questions related to energy activities within a wetland can be submitted to:

 

Page Information

Updated: Jan 12, 2018