Supervision of water operations

The County Administrative Board supervises most water operations and also carries out prevention work.

The County Administrative Board has supervisory responsibility over most water operations. This means that we check that the provisions of the Environmental Code and any conditions imposed on operations are being followed. We also carry out prevention work.

What does the County Administrative Board’s supervisory responsibility cover?

The vast majority of water operations requiring a permit or requiring notification fall under our supervisory responsibility. We check that regulations, rulings and other decisions issued on the basis of the Environmental Code are being followed. We also supervise operations that have been added without examination. If the law is not being followed, we can decide what prohibitions or measures are needed.

When we exercise self-initiated supervision, it is the County Administrative Board that initiates the supervision. We do this to check that any conditions attached to a permit are being met, for example. We are also active in those areas where environmental improvement is required.

What prevention work does the County Administrative Board carry out?

The County Administrative Board’s prevention work includes providing advice and information, as well as carrying out targeted initiatives. Through our work, we make sure the law is being followed, and the objectives, environmental quality targets and environmental quality standards of the Environmental Code are being met.

Other authorities that may have supervisory responsibility

Forest operations

The Swedish Forest Agency has supervisory responsibility over operations falling under the Swedish Forestry Act (skogsvårdslagen), for example protective ditching or ditch cleaning. If such cleaning operations could endanger fish, a water operations notification must also be submitted to the County Administrative Board.

Wastewater disposal

The municipal board has supervisory responsibility over operations involving wastewater disposal. Wastewater also includes surface run-off. The County Administrative Board has supervisory responsibility over any land drainage that becomes relevant in this connection.

Defence Inspectorate for Medicine and Environmental Health

The Defence Inspectorate for Medicine and Environmental Health (Försvarsinspektören för hälsa och miljö, FIHM) has operational supervisory responsibility for water operations where the Swedish Armed Forces, the Swedish Fortifications Agency, the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration or the National Defence Radio Establishment is the operator.

Supervision concerning individual interests

While exercising supervision, the County Administrative Board safeguards both public and individual interests, although public interests carry more weight. The supervisory authority has no duty to resolve disputes between individuals where applicable provisions of the Environmental Code or the Act laying down special provisions on water operations (LSV) have been duly followed. In such cases, the disputing parties can be referred to other dispute resolution channels. If the dispute cannot be resolved by common consent of all those involved, civil proceedings may be required.

Resources for supervision and prioritisation

The resources we have available for supervision are limited, as are our means for dealing with conflicts between individuals. Priority is therefore primarily given to supervision with a view to achievement of the government’s environmental targets and fulfilment of the objectives of the Environmental Code. The supervisory authority has no duty to resolve disputes between individuals. The disputing parties may be advised to resolve the issue by common consent and compromise, or through civil proceedings.

If there is a risk that public interests may be harmed, these matters are prioritised ahead of complaints involving a risk to individual interests only.

While we do deal with matters concerning individual interests to a certain extent, we do not fund any investigations. If the complaint concerns individual interests, the party intending to act should do everything they can to try and solve the problem themselves.

Event-driven supervision – complaints

The County Administrative Board sometimes receives complaints in the form of requests for supervision, for example, if a property owner is failing to maintain their ditches and conduits, or someone is building a bridge or filling in a water area. Complaints are often prompted where accessibility looks likely to be restricted, or in cases of flooding or actual damage to the complainant’s own property.

Complaints that ditches or conduits are too small

People sometimes claim that their neighbour’s ditches or conduits are inadequate for the current conditions. No means are available to us for ordering someone to increase the size of their ditches or conduits or to otherwise change the design of existing systems that have been in place for some time. This might even be prohibited and could require an exemption from the ban on land drainage.

Complaints concerning natural water courses

With respect to natural water courses, property owners are under no obligation to carry out maintenance, for example to remove fallen trees or other vegetation from its path. Natural water courses must be left to their own devices as far as possible. Vegetation caught in the water is important for flora and fauna in the water course. We do not therefore impose any such measures. Anyone intending to carry out activities in a natural water course must have at least consulted the County Administrative Board beforehand.

Complaints internal to community associations

Sometimes complaints involve community associations, for example community associations that look after ditching, roads or bridges, where the complainant is a member of the association. In such cases, the matter is commonly closed by the complainant being informed that this falls under the association’s own responsibility. If the governing board of the association or equivalent cannot resolve the problem, the dispute can be resolved through civil proceedings.

The County Administrative Board does not deal with complaints concerning compensation, rights of coercion, compulsory purchases or other civil matters.

How to request supervision – making a complaint

If you suspect someone is carrying out water operations that are not permitted and want the County Administrative Board to investigate by exercising supervision, please proceed as follows:

  • provide a clear account in writing;
  • examples of what to include:
    • why you think the operation is not permitted
    • the negative consequences you think are associated with the water operation
    • the way in which you are negatively affected;
  • document the event/operation using photos;
  • highlight the site concerned on a map, and give the address or description of the property;
  • send your account, photo documentation and maps to the County Administrative Board;
  • indicate that the matter concerns supervision of water operations, ideally in the subject line.

Once we have received your documents, we will open a supervision file and investigate whether the water operation is permitted or not. In cases where water operations are not permitted, ongoing work may be stopped, restoration work may be ordered or a criminal complaint may be lodged.

Supervision fee

The County Administrative Board can charge a fee for its supervision work if the supervision proves to be justified. The fee is SEK 800 for each half an hour spent handling the matter. The County Administrative Board must prepare a separate decision in order to charge the fee. The fee does not have to be paid for complaint-driven supervision that proves to be unjustified.