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Management of waterways

Since 2006, the Québec government has mandated the MRC to control any matter relating to the outflow of water from any stream, including cross overs and obstructions. For the purposes of enforcement, the MRC has adopted a policy on the management of waterways, which considers the protection of people and properties.

To do this, the MRC develops strategies, plans and actions to create, install and maintain waterways within its jurisdiction. These actions can be taken with regard to the bed of the stream, on the shore and waterfronts.

Costs relating to work on streams are distributed equitably to the municipalities through a calculation based on several criteria, including the runoff coefficient and area of ​​affected municipalities.

The calculation of this coefficient, an indicator of the portion of the rainwater directly contributing to the flow of rivers, is made from geomatic data at the cutting edge of technology. This data includes topography, soil type, vegetation cover and territory land use. Specifically, a municipality with a higher urbanization rate, fewer trees and a waterproof floor will be given a higher runoff coefficient than a municipality with more vegetation and permeable soil. This coefficient is used to modulate the area belonging to cities and municipalities of the MRC, in order to fairly distribute the costs generated by work on the principle of a "user payer” model.

Are you aware of the services offered by the MRC as part of its policy on waterways management?

The MRC offers a range of services for the development of the region, while preserving the natural character of waterways within the territory. Specifically, the MRC offers a service for determining jurisdiction of rivers, a permit service for work affecting the waterways (installation of culverts, slope stabilization, drainage outlets, stream fords, etc. ) and a management service for handling beaver dams. The MRC mandate also include the management of projects where maintenance and improvement of rivers are needed in order to prevent flooding, to facilitate drainage and to reduce the impact of landslides. These projects are the result of requests from citizens and municipalities within the MRC.

Do you know that when you are a property owner you are responsible for the bank and waterfront adjacent to your property?

As a waterfront owner, you must remove anything that might impede the flow of water, such as branches, waste, tree trunks or any other substance or land mass. You must keep your bank in good condition, free of debris and maintain native and natural vegetation to a minimum width of 10 or 15 meters.

Are you aware that the MRC can help you identify a stream on your property?

For waterways jurisdiction claims, it will take the MRC approximately two weeks before sending you an approximate location map of the stream on the property under study. The MRC responsability is limited to confirming that there is a water stream or not. The exact location, the positioning of the riparian zone or any other information of a geographic nature must be determined by a professional survey or a biologist trained in the process of determining the high water mark.

Furthermore, as part of major projects carried out on its territory, the MRC becomes the link between the various stakeholders such as cities and municipalities, government agencies (Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, Department of Natural Resources and Wildlife, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Service Québec, Québec Ministry of Transportation and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans), the regional organization dedicated to waterways, the COBAVER-VS, citizens and consultants in engineering, surveying, agronomy and biology. This collaborative work is essential for sustainable development.

Do you have a problem with beaver dams?

The MRC offers a management service for obstructions such as beaver dams. First, we need to determine if the dam poses a danger to people or property. If this is not the case, it is recommended to use the guide for beaver depredation, created by the Department of Natural Resources and Wildlife, which outlines strategies to manage a beaver problem in a prevetative or repulsive way

The Act on conservation and enhancement of wildlife supports the objective of protecting the beavers and their living environments. More precisely, sections 26 and 67 apply in the case of a beaver dam:

Article 26:
"No one may disturb, destroy or damage a beaver lodge or eggs, nest or den of an animal. However, one person or someone who lends a hand may depart from this prohibition if they cannot prevent an animal from causing damage to his or her property under his or her custody or is responsible for maintenance. The Department may, on its terms, authorize a person to depart from the first paragraph."

Article 67:
"A person or someone who lends a hand cannot kill or capture an animal whether it attacks or causes damages to their property or to properties in their custody or of which they are responsible for the maintenance when they can either scare the animal away or prevent it from causing damages.”

Strategies to scare beavers away include the use of a natural irritant spread around trees to be protected, protection of specific trees with safety cages installed at their base and security gates installed at strategic locations.

If the presence of a beaver dam is seen as desirable and positive for the affected environment, it can be managed without affecting the colony of beavers. Indeed, the guide of depredation of the Department of Natural Resources and Wildlife (MRNF) explains several strategies for pipeline installation passing through the dam, under the water line, to regulate the height of the stream on each side of the obstruction. This type of intervention aims at halting the construction of the dam height and may have the effect of discouraging the beaver, as it will not be able to plug the drain. The population of the beaver colony can then be stabilized naturally or it can choose to move to another area easier to control that does not affect the safety of people and property.

Since beavers are very territorial creatures, a forced relocation in the territory of another beaver is not possible, because it ultimately would lead to violent conflict between the two animals.

Thus, in a perspective of respect for animals and as an action of last resort, if the dam poses a danger to present or projected property or persons, the MRC is compelled to hire a certified trapper to install traps that comply with strict requirements of the Ministry. It is then recommended to create a breach in the dam to prevent a "water blow" during the subsequent demolition.

After trapping, the MRC uses an excavation company to release the river of its obstruction and restore normal flow. The MRC coordinates this work with relevant ministries and assumes the financial responsibility.