Government of New Brunswick
Background

In New Brunswick, about 40% of the population obtain their water supply from surface watersheds. That is, an area of land that drains a system of streams, lakes and rivers. One contaminated watershed can mean undrinkable water for thousands of people.

Although not always immediately apparent, land development activities such as commercial and industrial development, agriculture, residential development and forestry activities, can have an impact on the environment. The accumulative affect of several of these activities within the watershed area has the potential for impacting water quality.

Recognizing the need for a comprehensive, proactive approach to control development in areas where the source of potable water is lakes, streams, and rivers, the Watershed Protection Program was developed. Initially, under this program development activity within 75 m of a protected watercourse was regulated.

With the introduction of the second phase of the Watershed Protection Program, standards are now placed on activities within the entire watershed, in addition to the 75-metre setback zone. This includes the watercourses themselves. In this manner, the Department of Environment can more effectively ensure quality drinking water for the 21 communities that receive their drinking water from surface watersheds.

 

Watershed Protection Program

There are three key features of this program;

  • Designated watersheds , watershed areas that supply municipal drinking water for the province.
  • Zones of protection, protected areas within each designated watershed. These zones are defined as:

Zone 'A': the watercourse.

Zone 'B': the 75-metre setback

Zone 'C': the balance of the watershed area.

  • Watershed Protected Area Designation Order, defines the protected zones, and what can occur within them.

The Watershed Protected Area Designation is written in such a way that all developments, activities, or things not described are prohibited within a protected area.

 

What is a Protected Area

Each protected zone is defined under the Watershed Protected Area Designation Order. Zone 'A' is defined as any watercourse, including lakes, streams, ponds, rivers or brooks designated as protected, within the watershed area.

Zone 'B', also called the 75-metre setback zone, is an area within a horizontal distance of 75 metres from the bank of watercourses.

Zone 'C' is defined as the remaining area within the watershed, outside the 75-metre setback but within the watershed boundary. This is also sometimes referred to as the balance of the watershed area.

Standards may vary between each zone of protection.

What Properties are Affectedby the Watercourse Setback Designation

For a property to be affected by the Watershed Protected Area Designation, the property must be located within one of the designated watershed listed in the accompanying table.

Although watercourses include lakes, rivers and most streams within a watershed, some very small seasonal brooks, ditches, and wetlands may not be included. The designation order applies only to watercourses which are specifically identified on plans contained in the general register of protected areas (setback zones) maintained in the office of the Minister of Environment.

Maps showing the designated watersheds and selected watercourses can be obtained from either the Department of Environment, or Geographic Information Corporation Office (Land Information Centre).

 

List of Designated Watersheds

 

Municipality   Watershed
Baker Brook A1 Ruisseau à Zépherin Watershed
Bath A2 Watershed Of Unnamed Tributary to Saint John R.
Bathurst A3
A4
Carters Brook Watershed
Middle River Watershed
Campbellton A5 Prichard Lake - Smith Lake Watershed
Clair A6 Ruisseau Thompson Watershed
Dalhousie A7 Charlo River Watershed
Edmundston A8
A9
A15
A20
A23
A24
Ruisseau à Blanchette Watershed
Rivière Iroquois Watershed
Ruisseau Trois-Miles Watershed (Verret)
Watershed of Unnamed Tributary to Ruisseau des Smyth (Saint-Basile)
Rivière à la Truite Watershed (Saint-Jacques)
Watershed of Unnamed Tributary to Madawaska River (Saint-Jacques)
Eel River Crossing A10 Eel River Watershed
Moncton A11
A12
Turtle Creek Watershed
McLaughlin Road Reservoir Watershed
Perth-Andover A13 Huds Brook Watershed
Petit-Rocher A14 Nigadoo River Watershed
Riverside-Albert A16 Arabian Vault Brook Watershed
Rivière Verte A17 Green River Watershed downstream of the mouth of Little Forks Branch Green River
Rothesay A18 Carpenter Pond Watershed
Sackville A19 Ogden Mill Brook Watershed
Saint-Hilaire A22 Ruisseau à Félix-Martin Watershed
Saint John A25
A26
A27
Lock Lomond Watershed
East and West Musquash Watershed
Spruce Lake Watershed
Saint-Quentin A28 Five Fingers Brook Watershed
St. Andrews A29 Chamcook Lake Watershed
St. Stephen A30 Dennis Stream Watershed
What Activities are Permitted

As long as all existing applicable municipal, provincial and federal laws are adhered to, proper permits are obtained, care and concern for the watershed water quality are exercised and no contaminant is added to any watercourse, a municipality, person or corporate body may do the following within a protected area (All other developments and activities are prohibited).

Permitted Activities Within Protected Area Zone A
  • use a permitted watercourse crossing, if no ford is used or constructed to cross the watercourse;

  • undertake boating and fishing in non-motorized watercraft;

  • undertake boating and fishing with motorized watercraft, and swim at public beaches, subject to the following conditions;

only in the East and West Musquash, Chamcook Lake, Loch Lomond and Moore's Mills Lake in the Dennis Stream watersheds.

Watercraft must have 4-stroke motors of less than 10 horsepower;

Watercraft can not have inboard toilets;

fuel tanks must be firmly attached to the watercraft and sealed so leaks will not occur if the watercraft overturns;

watercraft can only carry a maximum of 25 liters of fuel in tanks that are not built into the watercraft;

  • undertake surveying or sign posting;

  • carry out emergency operations conducted for public health, safety or general welfare;

    Included are natural resource protection, law inforcement and searchand rescue operations;  
Permitted Activities Within Protected Area Zone B
  • enjoy access for primitive recreation uses:

    These include such things as study of wildlife, hunting, fishing, trapping, canoeing and canoe portaging, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Harvesting of wild crops by non-motorized mechanical means is also permitted.
  • operate a motorized vehicle on an existing provincial highway;

  • survey and post signs;

  • carry out emergency operations conducted for public health, safety or general welfare;

    Included are natural resource protection, law enforcement and search and rescue operations;

  • use, rebuild, maintain, renovate or make additions to existing single-family and existing multiple-family dwellings;

However, existing single-unit residences may not be converted into multiple-unit dwellings. Where and existing dwelling has been damaged or destroyed to the point where it is unsafe or unsuitable for human habitation, it may be rebuilt, after notifying the Minister, provided it is no closer to the watercourse, is not expanded beyond 150% the original useable floor area or 185 square metres, and no additional buildings are built. Measures to prevent the discharge of contaminants into the watercourse must be undertaken.

Routine residential property maintenance may be carried out. Additional landscaping may also be carried out, provided the landscaping is at least 5 metres from the banks of the watercourse and no trees are cut within 15 metres from the banks of the watercourse. Landscaping does not include major structures such as garages, swimming pools and ponds. Maintenance or upgrading of existing septic systems is also permitted with approval from the Department of Health and Wellness.

  • on residential properties only, remove dead and blown down trees within 15 metres of the banks of a watercourse;

  • Within 1 kilometer upstream of a surface water supply intake, carry out tree planting activities between 30 and 75 metres from the banks of a watercourse;

  • At a distance greater than 1 kilometer upstream of a surface water supply intake, carry out tree planting activities between 15 and 75 metres from the banks of a watercourse;

  • Within 1 kilometer upstream of a surface water supply intake, selection cut by mechanical or non-mechanical means between 30 and 75 metres from the banks of a watercourse;

No more than 30 percent of the total stems or volume of trees can be harvested. The selection harvesting may only take place every 5 years, and shall be done only between November 1 and the next following March 31, inclusive, in a protected Area B north of 46 degrees latitude, except in designated watersheds for Bath and Perth-Andover. In protected Area B in watersheds south of 46 degrees latitude, selection cutting will only be done between January 1 and the next following March 31, inclusive, and in the designated watersheds for Bath and Perth-Andover.

  • At a distance greater than 1 kilometer upstream of a surface water supply intake, selection cut by mechanical or non-mechanical means between 15 and 75 metres from the banks of a watercourse;

    No more than 30 percent of the total stems or volume of trees can be harvested. The selection harvesting may only take place every 5 years or in accordance with a forest management plan signed by a Registered Professional Forester, and shall be done only between November 1 and the next following March 31, inclusive, in a protected Area B north of 46 degrees latitude, except in designated watersheds for Bath and Perth-Andover. In protected Area B in watersheds south of 46 degrees latitude, selection cutting will only be done between January 1 and the next following March 31, inclusive, and in the designated watersheds for Bath and Perth-Andover.

  • Carry out existing agricultural activities within 1 kilometer upstream of the intake of a surface water supply intake, between 30 and 75 metres from the banks of a watercourse;

Plowing or tilling must be contoured across any slope, and shall not be done on slopes greater than 5 horizontal to 1 vertical. No surface runoff from a field shall flow directly into a watercourse, no fertilizing other than inorganic fertilizing and green manuring shall be conducted, and fields used for livestock grazing must have a suitable fence constructed so livestock cannot approach within 30 metres of the banks of any watercourse.

  • At a distance greater than 1 kilometer upstream of a surface water supply intake, carry out existing agricultural activities between 15 and 75 metres from the banks of a watercourse;

Plowing or tilling must be contoured across any slope, and shall not be done on slopes greater than 5 horizontal to 1 vertical. No surface runoff from a field shall flow directly into a watercourse, no fertilizing other than inorganic fertilizing and green manuring shall be conducted, and fields used for livestock grazing must have a suitable fence constructed so livestock cannot approach within 15 metres of the banks of any watercourse.

  • Carry out hay removal at a distance greater than 1 kilometer upstream of a surface water supply intake, no closer than 5 meters from the banks of a watercourse;
  • Apply pesticides within 1 kilometer of a surface water supply intake, between 30 and 75 meters from the banks of a watercourse, provided the persons spraying the pesticides hold the appropriate certificate, permit or both under the Pesticides Control Act;

  • Apply pesticides at a distance greater than 1 kilometer of a surface water supply intake, between 15 and 75 meters of a surface water supply intake, provided the persons spraying the pesticides hold the appropriate certificate, permit or both under the Pesticides Control Act;

  • Construct roads at approved watercourse crossings provided the guidelines as specified in the Watershed Protected Area Designation Order are followed:

    These guidelines help prevent the direct discharge of sediment into a watercourse by specific construction methods designed to minimize the ground disturbance and prevent erosion;

    An approved watercourse crossing is a watercourse crossing which has been approved by the Minister of Environment under the Watercourse Alteration Regulation;

  • Install and operate electrical pump stations, provided they conformto the standards specified in the Watersheld Protected Area Designation Order.

  • Intall and operate fuel powered pumps, provided they conform to the standards specified in the Watershed Protected Area Designation Order, only between 30 and &5 meters of a watercourse;

  • Construct and operate substations, terminal stations and any part of atransmission line at permitted watercourse crossings;

  • Undertake surface mineral exploration;

  • Undertake underground mineral exploration at sufficient depth where it can be shown not to have a negative impact on any watercourse;

    (aa)  Construct and operate the intake structure and conveyance works associated with an aquaculture operation, with the proper authorization;

    (bb)  Undertake a sugar bush operation, between 30 and 75 metres from the banks of a watercourse, if no mechanical equipment is operated and no sap processing is conducted.

    (cc)  Drive motorized recreational vehicles at permitted watercourse crossings;

    (dd)  Use existing public boat launching areas and swim at public beaches, in the Loch Lomond, Chamcook Lake, Dennis Stream and East and West Musquash watersheds;

    (ee)  Conduct shoreline protection activities, subject to the provisions within the Watercourse Alteration Regulation - Clean Water Act.

 

Permitted Activities Within Protected Area Zone C
  • Construct, use, maintain, renovate, make additions to or rebuild a single-family or multiple-family dwelling and any accessory buildings and structures;

  • Carry out tree planting activities;

  • Carry out forestry practices;

    Clearcuts shall not exceed 25 hectares, and shall be separated by an unharvested, 100-metre buffer except for clearcuts which are adjacent to property lines of parcels with different owners, which require a 50-metre unharvested buffer strip. These buffer strips, and other areas adjacent to clearcuts, shall remain unharvested for at least 10 years or until the regenerating forest has reached 2 metres in height.

    Parcels with an area greater than 10 hectares in size may not have any more than 25% of the total parcel size clearcut at any time. Bulldozing operations may not expose more than 5% mineral soil, and logging yards and scarification shall not create runoff that causes suspended solid concentrations in any watercourse to exceed 25 milligrams/liter.

  • Carry out existing agricultural activities:

    Runoff and drainage shall be controlled so that concentrations do not cause suspended solid concentrations in any watercourse to exceed 25 milligrams per liter. No fields with non-row crops may be converted to row crops, and all row crop fields shall have a grassed strip adjacent to any watercourses and on the down-slope side of the field at least 5 metres wide. Agricultural land shall at all times be planted or covered with material that prevents erosion.

    No more than 5% of each parcel shall be cleared for farming purposes per year. For every hectare of land within Zone B that is no longer, but was previously used for farming and has been permanently re-vegetated, 2 hectares of land in Zone C may be cleared for farming purposes.

    No manure shall be stored or spread in Zone C without a nutrient management plan.

  • Construction of roads, subject to conditions outlined in the Watershed Protected Area Designation Order;

  • Install new petroleum storage tanks and maintain, use, cease to use, remove and otherwise handle existing or new petroleum storage tanks if all these comply with the Petroleum Storage and Handling Regulation - Clean Environment Act;

  • Carry out base metal mining, only if all effluents are discharged outside the entire watershed area;

  • Carry out the extraction and crushing of sand, gravel and other aggregate materials.

    Washing, grading and other secondary processing is not permitted.

  • Conduct an aquaculture operation, provided all effluents are discharged outside the entire watershed area and no ponds are constructed within any watercourse.
Complying with the Watershed Protected Area Designations

There will, of course, be developments or activities presently existing within the watersheds which will not conform with the conditions of the Watershed Protected Area Designation Order. The Minister of Environment has three options in addressing these situations;

  1. to grant exemptions with specific conditions;
  2. to refuse a request for exemption; or
  3. to acquire all or a portion of the land.

Anyone owning or who is developing, constructing, operating or maintaining, within a protected area, an activity or thing which is prohibited, controlled, limited or otherwise affected by the Watershed Protected Area Designation Order, and feels they are not able to comply with the requirements of the Watershed Protected Area Designation Order, must request an exemption from the Minister of Environment, in writing. A copy of the form for this request is attached.

 

Further Information

For additional information, or to obtain a copy of the document titled "Watershed Protection Program" Watercourse Setback Designation, contact a Department of Environment Regional Office in your area.

Application for an Exemption to the Watershed Protected Area Designation Order

Regional Boundaries of the New Brunswick Department of Environment

Regional Boundaries of the New Brunswick Department of Environment