Assessment of the environmental regulations dealing with watercourse alterations in New Brunswick

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University of New Brunswick


Watercourse alterations are any temporary or permanent changes made at, near or to a watercourse or to water flow in a watercourse. They not only involve the physical alterations of the watercourse, they include all activities taking place within a prescribed distance of the bank of any watercourse involving a disturbance of water, soil or vegetation (Watercourse Alterations Technical Guidelines, 1994). The installation and repair of culverts is a common watercourse alteration in New Brunswick. Watercourse alterations are carefully evaluated according to the pertinent environmental regulations. The jurisdiction of the federal and provincial government in the area of environmental legislation is not divided by geographical boundaries. As a result, overlaps and inconsistencies exist in the environmental process. The diversity of the regulations and the different fields of jurisdiction add to the complexity of the process. For engineers, contractors, or others responsible for engineering or construction projects, overlaps or inconsistencies in the environmental process posse a challenge. Failure to comply with any term or condition of approval, licence, permit, registration, determination or exemption issued or granted, or violation of any provisions of the statutes or regulations can result in fines, lost wages, and delay in the work schedule. In relation to watercourse alterations, several initiatives have been implemented to simplify and accelerate the process, such as the introduction of the Provisional Watercourse Alteration Permit. These developments are a clear indication of the need to keep improving the environmental process. The goal of this report is to assess the current environmental process dealing with watercourse alterations, to identify overlaps, gaps and conflicts, and to make recommendations to improve the process. The focus will be on the current policies, technical al guidelines and standards, recommended by the provincial departments in New Brunswick, for the installation and repair of culverts on private, freehold, and crown lands.