Steenburg Lake Community Association

Protecting the Shoreline

From the lake steward, Rick Burke

Septic System Re-inspection Information

The Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs wrote a guideline for Septic System Re-inspection. As a result, some Ontario townships have instituted programs to identify: high risk, medium risk, and low risk properties in order to prioritize site visits by septic system inspectors. High risk sites include those with either no record of a septic system, or records indicate the septic system is greater than 20 years old. Refer to URL for the ministry’s document on septic system re-inspection. It is unlikely that a township inspector will show up at your door in the foreseeable future. However, keep in mind the definition of a “high risk septic system” and consider having your system regularly checked.

Working Around Water?

Ontario's Conservation Authorities are responsible for the administration of the (Ontario Regulations 159/06)  Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses Regulation under Section 28 of the Conservation Authorities Act. The regulation is designed to protect life and property from natural hazards such as flooding, erosion and pollution.

Throughout the Crowe Valley watershed, lands located along features such as streams, rivers and lakes, lands with steep or unstable slopes, and wetland areas have been identified as regulated areas.  Special attention is required when considering development within these regulated areas to prevent flood and erosion damage, prevent pollution of local water resources, protect the natural functions of wetlands and ensure safe access to and from development.

If you are proposing development within a regulated area, Crowe Valley Conservation staff will provide advice and can guide you through any required permits. Call Crowe Valley Conservation 613-472-3137 before you proceed with any proposed development work located around or near water. The call may save you time and money and avoid unnecessary delays.

The placement of fill and alteration of existing grades within a regulated area requires a permit. Fill, such as sand, gravel or topsoil, either brought onto the site or moved within the property boundaries, is subject to the Regulation and requires a permit.  Construction and renovations on property located within a regulated area may also require a permit.

Obtaining Approvals - Information Requirements When applying for a permit under the Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses Regulation, you will be asked to provide specific information about your proposed work. This information will form the basis of the approval, therefore, always be sure to include the following information in your application to avoid delays:


·       Property owner's name, mailing address, telephone number.

·       Applicant name, mailing address, municipal address, telephone number(s)

·         A map/sketch to your location including Lot/Concession/Ward/Township, and location of proposed work

·         A dated site map, survey plan or detailed sketch indicating location of buildings, property lines, grade elevation above current water level and watercourse/lake/wetland location on or near the property

·         A detailed description, intended location and dimensions of proposed fill, construction or watercourse alteration

·         A cross-section of the proposed work showing existing grade and final grade and any building openings

  Once your application, and processing fee, have been received, the Regulations Officer will begin the review, which may include a visit to your property.

Failure to obtain a permit prior to undertaking development, interfering with a wetland or altering a shoreline or watercourse within a scheduled area is a violation of the Conservation Authorities Act. The violation carries a fine up to $10,000. You may also be required to restore and rehabilitate the disturbed area or remove the illegal structure.

 Other Permits you may Require...Before you build be sure to contact your municipal Building Inspector. If you are located within a regulated area you will require a permit from Crowe Valley Conservation in order to receive your municipal building permit.

A Word About Fish Habitat... Crowe Valley Conservation works in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to ensure the protection of fish habitat in the watershed region (Section 35 of the Fisheries Act). When reviewing your permit application, Conservation Authority staff will consider the effect your proposed work may have on fish habitat and provide advice on minimizing any impacts. Where impacts on fish or fish habitat cannot be mitigated, the Authority is required to forward your file to DFO for consideration.

Find out more at:, or email the CVCA regulations officer at


Good Words about Dock and Boathouse Construction

(Department of Fisheries and Oceans)

Docks and boathouses are common features on the shorelines of lakes and rivers in Canada and are an important part of the recreational use of our waterways. This Operational Statement applies to docks which consist of floating platforms or those supported by pipes, poles, wooden cribs or cantilever arms. The shoreline area in front of your cottage or waterfront property is also important habitat for a variety of aquatic organisms, including fish. Fish lay their eggs, feed and hide from predators in these shoreline areas.

Building a dock or boathouse along your waterfront can impact this important habitat by covering spawning habitat, removing rocks and logs that provide shelter, causing erosion and sedimentation from bank disturbance, introducing deleterious substances if improper building materials are used and disrupting sensitive fish life stages.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is responsible for protecting fish and fish habitat across Canada. Under the Fisheries Act no one may carry out a work or undertaking that will cause the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction (HADD) of fish habitat unless it has been authorized by DFO. By following the conditions and measures set out below you will be in compliance with subsection 35(1) of the Fisheries Act.

The purpose of this Operational Statement is to describe the conditions under which it is applicable to your project and the measures to incorporate into your project in order to avoid negative impacts to fish habitat. You may proceed with your dock or boathouse project without DFO review when you meet the following conditions:

·                     you are not working within the following areas/water bodies where this Operational Statement does not apply: waters within areas under Parks Canada’s jurisdiction, including the Trent-Severn Waterway and the Rideau Canal system,

·                     it is a new, repair or rebuild of a floating, cantilever or post dock or boathouse,

·                     it is a new, repair or rebuild of an open-faced crib dock or boathouse built entirely on natural bedrock or sand bottom with a total combined footprint (for both existing and proposed cribs) of 15 square metres (161 ft²) or less,

·                     the total surface area for the entire dock and boathouse, which occurs in a location below the ordinary high water mark (HWM) (see definition below), including both existing and proposed structures combined, does not exceed 50m² (538 ft² ), unless the structure is built entirely over natural bedrock or sand bottom (not supporting aquatic vegetation),

·                     it is not made of concrete or steel sheeting or any other skirting that isolates the inside of the crib from the rest of the water,

·                     it does not require any dredging, blasting or infilling in the water body,

·                     the combined width for all existing and proposed shoreline improvements on land and in water (docks, boathouses and beaches) is less than 25% of the property’s riparian area width (shoreline frontage width), and

·                     you incorporate the Measures to Protect Fish and Fish Habitat when Building your Dock and Boathouse listed below in this Operational Statement.

If you cannot meet all of the conditions listed above and cannot incorporate all of the measures listed below then your project may result in a violation of subsection 35(1) of the Fisheries Act and you could be subject to enforcement action. In this case, you should contact your Conservation Authority, or the DFO office in your area (see Ontario DFO office list), if you wish to obtain an opinion on the possible options you should consider to avoid contravention of the Fisheries Act.

You are required to respect all municipal, provincial or federal legislation that applies to the work being carried out in relation to this Operational Statement.

Measures to Protect Fish and Fish Habitat when Building your Dock and Boathouse

1. Use existing trails, roads, or cut lines wherever possible to avoid disturbance to the riparian vegetation (i.e., vegetation that occurs adjacent to the watercourse).

 2. While this Operational Statement does not cover the clearing of riparian vegetation, the removal of select plants may be necessary to access the construction site. This removal should be kept to a minimum.

 3. The construction of boathouses above the HWM is strongly encouraged in order to minimize impacts to fish habitat.

 4. Floating, cantilever and post docks, and marine railways on posts for boathouse access, can be installed at any time.

 5. Time the installation of crib docks to prevent disruption of sensitive fish life stages by adhering to appropriate fisheries timing windows (see the Ontario In-Water Construction Timing Windows).

 6. Construct cribs in an open-faced manner and fill with large rocks that provide crevices for fish and other small organisms. Leave enough space between cribs (two metres) and locate them at least two metres from the HWM to allow near shore water to circulate.

 7. Do not take materials (e.g., rock, logs) to build the dock from the shoreline, from below the HWM or from any water body.

 8. If rocks, stumps or logs need to be moved on the lake or river bottom or shoreline to build the dock, they should be relocated to an area of similar depth and not removed altogether from the bottom or shoreline.

 9. Install effective sediment and erosion control measures before starting work to prevent the entry of sediment into the watercourse. Inspect them regularly during the course of construction and make all necessary repairs if any damage occurs.

            9.1. Avoid doing work during wet and rainy periods.

 10. Use untreated materials (e.g. cedar, tamarack, hemlock, rocks, plastic, etc.) as supports for dock structures that will be submerged in water. Treated lumber may contain compounds that can be released into the water and become toxic to the aquatic environment.

10.1. Use only treated lumber that is environmentally-friendly (see definition below) for dock structures that are above water.

10.2. Cut, seal and stain all lumber away from the water using only environmentally-friendly stains (see definition below). All sealed and stained lumber should be completely dry before being used near water.

10.3. Ensure plastic barrel floats are free of chemicals inside and outside of the barrel before they are placed in water.

 11. Wherever possible, construct the dock either from a barge or float on the water or through the ice instead of using machinery from the bank of the water body.

 12. Operate machinery on land (from outside of the water) and in a manner that minimizes disturbance to the banks of the water body.

12.1. Machinery is to arrive on site in a clean condition and is to be maintained free of fluid leaks.

12.2. Wash, refuel and service machinery and store fuel and other materials for the machinery away from the water to prevent any deleterious substance from entering the water.

12.3. Keep an emergency spill kit on site in case of fluid leaks or spills from machinery.

12.4. Restore banks to original condition if any disturbance occurs.

 13. If a concrete abutment is needed to secure your dock to land install it entirely on land, above the HWM. The concrete is to be pre-cast and cured away from the water before use to prevent seepage of potentially toxic substances into the water body.

 14. Prevent deleterious substances such as uncured concrete, grout, paint, sediment and preservatives from entering the water body or storm drains.

 15. Vegetate any disturbed areas by planting and seeding preferably with native trees, shrubs or grasses and cover such areas with mulch to prevent erosion and to help seeds germinate. If there is insufficient time remaining in the growing season, the site should be stabilized (e.g., cover exposed areas with erosion control blankets to keep the soil in place and prevent erosion) and vegetated the following spring.

        15.1.Maintain effective sediment and erosion control measures until re-vegetation of disturbed areas is achieved.

If you would like more detailed information on fish-friendly dock construction and maintenance practices to help you plan your project, please refer to the following document: The Dock Primer -

A Cottager’s Guide to Waterfront-Friendly Docks  (Ontario Edition).


Ordinary high water mark (HWM) – The usual or average level to which a body of water rises at its highest point and remains for sufficient time so as to change the characteristics of the land. In flowing waters (rivers, streams) this refers to the “active channel/bank-full level” which is often the 1:2 year flood flow return level. In inland lakes, wetlands or marine environments it refers to those parts of the water body bed and banks that are frequently flooded by water so as to leave a mark on the land and where the natural vegetation changes from predominately aquatic vegetation to terrestrial vegetation (excepting water tolerant species). For reservoirs this refers to normal high operating levels (Full Supply Level).