All wetlands in the Mississippi Valley watershed that meet certain criteria are regulated including Provincially Significant Wetlands (PSWs)
• Wetlands greater than 0.5 ha (1.2 acres) in size
• Wetlands that have hydraulic connectivity (i.e. connected to a waterbody/watercourse)
MVCA staff is dedicated to working with the public and landowners in the event that their property is impacted. Staff will conduct a field visit; assess if the wetland in fact meets the criteria for protection under the regulation; provide guidance on how to proceed; and work with the landowner to arrive at a solution.
Importance of Wetlands
Improves water quality by filtering out suspended solids, absorbing pollutants and removing excess nutrients
Reduces flood damage
Habitat for fish and wildlife
Provides resilience to climate change
Recreation and tourism
Sustainable wetland products
Maintains base flows during dry conditions
What is a wetland?
Wetland means land that…
(a) is seasonally or permanently covered by shallow water or has a water table close to or at its surface;
(b) directly contributes to the hydrological function of a watershed through connection with a surface watercourse;
(c) has hydric soils, the formation of which has been caused by the presence of abundant water; and
(d) has vegetation dominated by hydrophytic plants or water tolerant plants, the dominance of which has been favoured by the presence of abundant water,
but does not include periodically soaked or wet land that is used for agricultural purposes and no longer exhibits a wetland characteristic.
Q. Why is it important to protect wetlands?
A. Wetlands help to: attenuate flooding, reduce erosion, improve water quality, recharge groundwater tables, maintain streamflow during dry periods, reduce the need for costly storm water infrastructure, maintain fish and wildlife habitat and provide recreational opportunities such as birding or hunting. Wetlands also help to maintain the resilience of our natural streams to reduce impacts from more frequent and intense weather events by absorbing heat and buffering against increased flooding, storm water and drought.
This regulation is a key tool in allowing Conservation Authorities to maintain these important natural functions which wetlands provide. This regulation prevents or restricts development in areas where in the opinion of the Authority, the control of flooding, erosion, dynamic beaches or pollution or the conservation of land may be affected by the development.
According to a Ducks Unlimited Canada final report (Southern Ontario Wetland Conversion Analysis-2010), Ontario has lost 1.4 million ha or 72% of the pre-settlement (c. 1800) wetlands. The decline in wetlands since settlement has been most drastic in south western Ontario, parts of eastern Ontario, and Niagara and the Toronto area, where over 85% of the original wetlands have been converted to other uses. Within the eastern half of the Mississippi Valley watershed it is estimated that 65% of the original wetlands have been lost.
In the third edition of “How Much Habitat is Enough?”, Environment Canada’s wetland habitat guidelines state, “Ensure no net loss of wetland area, and focus on maintain and restoring wetland functions at a watershed and subwatershed scale based on historic reference conditions. At a minimum, the greater of 10% of each major watershed should be protected and restored.”
To include current non-Provincially Significant Wetlands’s (PSW’s), MVCA is proposing to protect and restore 8% of the watershed, up from the current 4% (PSW’s only).
Feedback obtained from municipalities and the public will be presented to the Board of Directors for consideration in developing updated policies on how the regulation is to be administered.
Q. My property has been identified as a regulated wetland. What does that mean for me?
A. It means that development and interference within the wetland and the lands adjacent to it are regulated by the Conservation Authority; written permission from MVCA is required for those activities. Wetland maps are used as a guide and screening tool. If you are planning on undertaking projects or work within the identified regulated areas, contact MVCA prior to commencing the work. MVCA staff will conduct a field visit (preferably within the growing season) and assess the wetland areas to determine it meets the definition of a wetland. Staff will provide guidance and direction to landowners as to how this impacts the property and the permission requirements under the regulations.
Q. What if I want to work within a wetland?
A. First, contact MVCA to discuss your proposal. Wetlands will be more thoroughly assessed through field verification by MVCA staff when requests to conduct development or alterations within a wetland are received. MVCA will assess opportunities to mitigate impacts to the function of the wetland and recommend best management practices. Staff will also address the permission requirements and whether or not the proposal is supposed by the approved regulation policies that deems what activities are permissible within wetlands or their adjacent lands. Mitigation or compensation measures may be required through the conditions of the permit to offset impacts to the wetland’s function.
Q. What sort of activities requires approval within the wetlands and adjacent lands?
A. Development and interference within the wetland and development within the identified adjacent lands requires the written permission of MVCA. Proposed policies will indicate what type of development and interference can be approved at a staff level. Unauthorized development or alteration of wetlands can result in increased upstream or downstream flooding, reduced water quality, destruction of fish and wildlife habitat or other environmental problems. Unauthorized development or interference within wetlands or their associated adjacent lands can result in enforcement action being taken by MVCA.
Have a question or a comment? email Shannon Gutoskie, Community Relations Coordinator.