Are you planning to construct a bridge, divert water or carry out other water operations? If so, you may need to report the operation to your County Administrative Board or apply for a permit.
Water operations are works and measures in a body of water which affect the depth, size or location of the water area. You will normally need to submit a notification or apply for a permit in order to carry out a water operation. You must also ensure that certain requirements are met and that appropriate protective measures are implemented to limit the negative impact on the aquatic environment.
What is considered to be a water operation?
Water operations are measures which affect a water area in some way. Examples include measures that increase or reduce the volume of water, or affect the surrounding environment or the size of the water area. The Swedish Environmental Code divides water operations into eight different categories.
Examples of such measures may include:
- the construction or removal of a jetty, pier, dam, road drains, bridge or bridge pier;
- laying of cabling, conduits or piping and construction of culverts.
Examples of such measures may include:
- construction of road embankments, piers, retaining embankments, erosion protection or other reinforcement measures;
- extending a land area;
- piling for structures or moorings.
An example of this type of measure is the abstraction of water for drinking water, irrigation or cooling.
An example of this type of measure is the excavation, dredging or treatment of ditches.
Examples of such measures include:
- regulating the water level (e.g. via a regulating reservoir);
- re-excavation of a watercourse;
- establishment of wetlands.
Examples of such measures include:
- diversion of groundwater, either temporarily during construction work or permanently from garages, basements or other underground structures;
- excavation or drilling of wells;
- abstraction of water for drinking water, irrigation or cooling.
An example of this type of measure is the construction of an infiltration basin or well with associated pumping stations and intake pipes.
An example of this type of measure is the excavation, walling-in or lowering of a water area to provide permanent protection from the water.
What requirements apply to water operations?
A number of requirements must be met in order to carry out water operations. These requirements include having a right of disposal over the body of water, following the rules of consideration of the Environmental Code and protecting fishing. It is also important to consider both public and individual interests.
The person carrying out the water operation must have a right of disposal (ownership) over the body of water in the area where the operation is to be conducted. This right of disposal may, for example, be based on ownership, easements, usufruct or other rights. As the person conducting water operations, you are responsible for ensuring that you have a right of disposal over the body of water where the measure is being implemented.
You must follow the rules of consideration of the Environmental Code if you intend to perform water operations. This means that you must perform measures in such a way as to protect human health and the environment against damage or detriment. This includes obtaining the correct knowledge regarding specific protective measures, using the best available technology and avoiding chemical products wherever possible. It is also important to use raw materials and energy efficiently, reduce waste quantities and recycle wherever possible.
The rules of consideration can be found in their entirety in the Environmental Code.
If a water operation could be detrimental to fishing, you must implement any protective measures that may be necessary at your own expense. Remember that the term ‘fish’ also includes molluscs and crustaceans. This includes maintaining any arrangements that are necessary for the passage of fish and fish populations.
You must also ensure that water operations are implemented in such a way as not to be prejudicial to other activities which are likely to involve the same water source both now and in the future and which serve important public or private purposes.
What precautions are required to protect the aquatic environment?
Specific protective measures must be implemented in order to limit the detrimental impact on the aquatic environment during operations in water. It is also important to only carry out water operations during the time period specified in the decision made by the County Administrative Board. A disposal site must have been approved prior to the commencement of any dredging operations.
The protective measures must be described when you submit a notification of water operations or apply for a permit. If you do not implement appropriate protective measures, the County Administrative Board may require such measures to be implemented.
You must prevent the spread of pollution through measures including:
- using biodegradable hydraulic oil;
- carefully selecting materials to prevent the spread of environmental toxins;
- using fill material which does not contain pollutants;
- not using creosote-impregnated posts;
- not storing chemicals near water areas;
- not setting up work machinery near the water area;
- using dredging equipment especially adapted for contaminated sediments.
You must prevent turbidity through measures including:
- using protective screens made from geotextiles or metal or plastic slats;
- using sedimentation or sludge traps downstream.
You must implement measures carefully and using the best available technology through measures including:
- laying road drains so that they do not impede the migration of fish;
- using an environmentally friendly excavation bucket when excavating in contaminated sediment or in order to reduce the impact of turbidity.
To save valuable environments, you should implement measures including:
- preserving seagrass meadows;
- preserving hard bottoms of sand, gravel and rock wherever possible.
Clean up watercourses carefully and at low water levels. You should think of measures including:
- preserving trees and bushes along the watercourse to prevent overgrowth;
- maintaining important structures, shading and providing dead plant material which benefits fauna.
Protect aquatic organisms through measures including:
- using bubble curtains or noise deterrents when blasting to scare aquatic organisms away from the blasting area;
- capturing and moving fish to another suitable location in the watercourse before closing a streambed;
- working only at designated times.
Restore a water area in accordance with agreements through measures including:
- basing your activity on an adopted restoration plan
- basing your activity on an agreement (consultation) with the County Administrative Board.
Remove obstructions through measures including:
- laying conduits in fairways at such a depth such that they are not damaged during anchoring;
- designing concrete weights on wires such as to prevent fishing gear from becoming entangled;
- removing and disposing of structures that are no longer required, such as cables and jetties.
Submitting a notification or applying for a permit
In order to carry out water operations, it is often necessary to submit a notification to the County Administrative Board or apply for a permit from the Swedish Land and Environmental Court. A notification is sufficient for less extensive water operations. Certain water operations do not require a notification or permit.
When are you not required to submit a notification or apply for a permit?
Certain water operations do not require either a notification or a permit. Certain measures may also be implemented without applying for a permit in advance in an emergency situation. You are not required to submit a notification or apply for a permit for:
- water operations where public or private interests are manifestly not going to be harmed;
- clean-up operations for a water area for the purpose of restoring a change in a watercourse or maintaining the depth or position of the water, unless this could be detrimental to fishing;
- structures for the breeding of fish, mussels or crustaceans (considered under other legislation);
- water catchments for the personal consumption or heat supply of a one- or two-family property or agricultural and forestry property.
A permit is however always required to carry out land drainage.
Submitting a notification of a water operation
A permit is not always required for less extensive water operations, and notification to the County Administrative Board may be sufficient in such cases.
Application for a permit for a water operation
You must apply for a permit from the Swedish Land and Environmental Court after you have consulted your County Administrative Board and other parties which could be affected in the case of extensive water operations. You may also need to apply for a permit for less extensive water operations in certain cases. This will for example be the case if the operation will affect natural areas of importance or if an individual who has not given their consent would be affected.