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Interim code of practice: culvert maintenance

1 About this code of practice

This code of practice outlines national best practices for culvert maintenance. Culvert maintenance is undertaken to extend the life of the structure and to ensure that it functions as designed (this includes baffled culverts). For the purpose of this code, culvert maintenance includes the manual or mechanical removal of accumulated debris (e.g. logs, sediment, boulders, garbage, ice build-up) that prevents the efficient passage of water and fish through the structure. Culvert maintenance may also include the reinforcement of eroding inlets and outlets but does not include the replacement of damaged or destroyed bevel ends.

This code of practice provides useful information on the measures to follow to ensure that fish and fish habitat are protected. This code applies to routine culvert maintenance only and does not apply to culvert replacement or extension, installation of liners, trash rack installation or beaver dam removal.

Some potential impacts to fish and fish habitat from culvert maintenance could include but are not limited to: the sedimentation of aquatic habitat; changes in food supply; changes in flow regime and fish passage; changes to the riparian zone; and the accumulation of deleterious substances.

A project review by DFO is not required when the conditions and measures set out in this code of practice and all applicable Measures to Protect Fish and Fish Habitat are applied.

This code does not remove or replace the obligation to comply with all applicable statutory and regulatory requirements of the Fisheries Act, or other federal, provincial, or municipal legislation and policies.

2 You can use the code of practice if:

Request a project near water review when the works, undertakings and activities do not meet all of the criteria listed in this section.

3 Measures to protect fish and fish habitat

3.1 Protection of fish

3.2 Protection of fish passage

3.3 Protection of the riparian zone

3.4 Protection of fish habitat from sedimentation

3.5 Protection of fish and fish habitat from deleterious substances (including suspended sediment)

3.6 Additional measures for culvert maintenance

4 Notification

When making use of this code of practice, please submit a Notification Form (PDF, 50 KB) to your regional DFO office to help us improve this fish and fish habitat protection guidance over time.

You must download and save this PDF form to your computer before filling it out.
How to download and open a PDF form

It is your Duty to Notify DFO if you have caused, or are about to cause, the unauthorized death of fish by means other than fishing and/or the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat. Such notifications should be directed to the Fish and Fish Habitat Protection Program.

5 Contact us

If you have questions regarding this code of practice contact the Fish and Fish Habitat Protection Program located in your region.

6 Glossary

Ordinary high water mark
The usual or average level to which a body of water rises at its highest point and remains for sufficient time to change the characteristics of the land. In flowing waters (e.g., 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 (i.e. full supply level).
Riparian zone
Area adjacent to streams, lakes, and wetlands that support a unique mixture of water tolerant vegetation from trees and shrubs to aquatic and herbaceous plants. 
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