Table of contents

WCP overview

Alberta has several fish species that have been calling Alberta’s eastern slopes home for thousands of years, but are in population decline. Arctic grayling, Athabasca rainbow trout, bull trout and Westslope cutthroat trout rely on cool, clean, clear and connected waters to survive and thrive.

Watercourse crossings can fragment fish habitats and impact water quality. A watercourse crossing is any linear disturbance, be it road or trail, that intersects a stream. Stream fords and poorly installed or maintained structures such as culverts can change the stream channel, devegetate banks, slow down the water allowing it to warm and decrease concentrations of dissolved oxygen, transport large amounts of sediment downstream smothering fish nurseries and removing habitat for aquatic invertebrates.

The goal of the Watercourse Crossing Program (WCP) is to address threats to fish survival stemming from trails and poorly constructed and maintained watercourse crossings that cause habitat fragmentation, erosion and sedimentation. The magnitude of the fish habitat restoration challenge is considerable, with thousands of crossings across the province, spanning multiple industrial sectors and regulatory authorities. The regulators, which include the Ministry of Environment and Parks (AEP), the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) work with crossing owners and stewardship groups to identify and prioritize crossings that maximize ecological outcomes.

Watercourse crossing owners

ABWCI App

Alberta Watercourse Crossing Inventory App Image

The WCP created the ABWCI App to:

  • collect data measuring the extent of the watercourse crossing problem
  • address and support watercourse crossing remediation efforts

This mobile app supports a data management system by capturing the location and condition of crossings from the general public, industry and roadway owners and regulators.

The ABWCI App is available for download on your iPhone or Android for free. You can submit information on the app by taking pictures and recording information about the watercourse crossing.

Videos: ABWCI App tutorials

Watercourse Crossing Remediation Grant Program

Dedicated remediation funding for municipalities

AEP established the Watercourse Crossing Remediation Grant Program in 2021 to provide financial and planning assistance to municipalities to remediate and reclaim roadway crossings that are causing erosion, excessive sedimentation and fragmentation of fish habitat in Alberta. The program has $8.5 million ($1.5, $4 and $3 million for 2021-22, 2022-23 and 2023-24). This document describes and provides guidance on how qualified municipalities can apply for funding. Applications will be considered for 2021-22 funding as they are received. However, applications must be received by October 1, 2021.

Watercourse crossing legislation overview

The WCP covers all crossing owners in the province. Watercourse crossings are subject to regulatory requirements under:

  • Water Act
  • Public Lands Act
  • Code of Practice for Watercourse Crossings
  • Respective authorizations for all relevant legislation

This is not an exhaustive list of all legislation and crossing owners must comply with all provincial and federal statutes applicable to their watercourse crossings.

The legislation requires crossing owners to monitor and report crossings that contravene the acts. Participation in the WCP requires:

  • complete inspections on all crossings within each Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) 8 watershed provincially
  • submission of inspection data to the regulator to coordinate remediation planning at a watershed scale

For questions related to the program or the information package, email [email protected] or [email protected].

Resources

Legislation

Provincial

The guiding legislation for the WCP includes:

Federal

Contact

Connect with the Alberta WCP:

Phone: 780-427-2711
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: [email protected]
Email (AER): [email protected]

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