The Ontario Waterpower Association (OWA) works with the provincial government on policy and regulation, as it relates to the waterpower industry.

Managing water flows and levels in Ontario

Learn about the importance of Water Management Plans (WMPs) and how they manage water flows and levels at waterpower facilities in Ontario.

Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act

The Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act (LRIA) requires dam owners to obtain approval from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for:

  • the construction of new dams
  • certain repairs and alterations to existing dams
  • certain water crossing and channelization works

LRIA Administrative Guide (August 2017)
The Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act Administrative Guide outlines the broad requirements of the Act, including roles and responsibilities, application of the Acts and steps in the review and approval process.

LRIA Technical Bulletins
Location Approval for Dams
Alterations, Improvements and Repairs to Existing Dams
Classification and IDF
Seismic Hazard
Structural Design Factors of Safety
Spillway and Flood Control Structures
Geotechnical Design Factors of Safety
Dam decommissioning and Removal
Maintaining Water Management Plans

Endangered Species Act

Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) was passed into law in 2007, and came into force on June 30, 2008. Of the 30,000 species that are native to Ontario, more than 180 are at risk. The Act defines an ‘at risk’ species as any native plant or animal that is in danger of disappearing from the province.

Electricity Act

The Electricity Act establishes a “level playing field” for the assessment of waterpower facilities and resources to facilitate fairness in the competitive electricity market.

Ontario Water Resources Act

The Ontario Water Resources Act focuses on both groundwater and surface water throughout the province. The Water Resources Act regulates sewage disposal and “sewage works” and prohibits the discharge of polluting materials that may impair water quality

Public Lands Act – Resource Allocation and Sustainable Development

The Public Lands Act ensures that Ontario’s waterpower resources continue to contribute to the prosperity and quality of life of present and future generations.

Access to Provincial Crown Land

For waterpower projects located in whole or in part on provincial Crown land the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is the first point of contact. For up-to-date resources on this topic, please visit the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s information pages:
Managing Crown Land for Renewable Energy: Policies and Procedures
Managing Crown Land for Renewable Energy: Additional Crown Land Management Information and Resources

Private Land

In most instances in Ontario, the development of a waterpower project involves access to Crown land. Proponents of a waterpower project are encouraged to perform their due diligence by consulting all relevant documents before pursuing with a development that does not include access to Crown land in some manner. Ownership of the bed and banks of the river can be established by consulting the deed of your property and requires additional real estate and legal expertise. The Ontario Beds of Navigable Waters Act outlines the conditions under which ownership of the Bed of an Ontario river may have been granted. All proponents must also consider the interests of riparian owners, backshore owners, and other related interests that may be impacted by a proposed development.

Federal Land

Proponents should consult the Dominion Waterpower Act and Dominion Waterpower Regulations for waterpower projects with Federal land components. Proponents are advised to contact the federal agency with jurisdiction of their proposed development for the most up-to-date information on federal policies and procedures as they relate to waterpower development. In particular, Parks Canada is responsible for the management of Ontario’s historic canals (Trent-Severn, Rideau) and waterpower development thereon.