Version 3.0 (PDF)
Bridge maintenance is undertaken to extend the life of the structure
and to ensure that it functions as designed, thus ensuring public
safety. This Operational Statement applies only to: deck sweeping
and washing to remove traction material (e.g., sand and salt residue),
cleaning of all bridge components (substructure, superstructure
and deck), the removal and application of protective coatings, deck
wearing surface replacement, the removal of debris to protect piers
and abutments, and structural repairs involving no instream work.
Note any instream work involving rock armouring of the bridge
structure or channel should be referred to the local DFO office
for advice on appropriate mitigations to avoid potential negative
impacts to fish and fish habitat.
Bridge maintenance activities have the potential to negatively
impact fish and fish habitat by introducing sand, sediments, deck
surface materials such as concrete and asphalt, and other deleterious
substances (e.g., salt, paint, solvents, oil and grease) into watercourses.
Removal of woody debris and riparian vegetation may alter natural
habitat features and flows that exist in the watercourse. Operation
of machinery may impact habitat on the banks and bed, and result
in erosion and sedimentation. Placement of rock to stabilize structures
may alter natural habitat and flows, and block fish passage.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is responsible for protecting
fish and fish habitat across Canada. Under the Fisheries Act no
one may carry out a work or undertaking that will cause the harmful
alteration, disruption or destruction (HADD) of fish habitat unless
it has been authorized by DFO. By following the conditions and measures
set out below you will be in compliance with subsection 35(1) of
the Fisheries Act.
The purpose of this Operational Statement is to describe the
conditions under which it is applicable to your project and the
measures to incorporate into your project in order to avoid negative
impacts to fish habitat. You may proceed with your bridge maintenance
project without a DFO review when you meet the following conditions:
- the work does not include realigning the watercourse or
replacing the existing bridge,
- the work does not involve instream works, dredging, placing
fill (e.g., filling scour pools) or excavating the bed or bank
of the watercourse,
- explosives are not used to remove debris,
- the withdrawal of any water will not result in reduction
in the wetted width of a stream, and will not exceed 10% of
the instantaneous flow, in order to maintain existing fish habitat,
- you incorporate the "Measures to Protect Fish and Fish Habitat
when Maintaining a Bridge" listed below in this Operational
If you cannot meet all of the conditions listed above and cannot
incorporate all of the measures listed below then your project may
result in a violation of subsection 35(1) of the Fisheries Act
and you could be subject to enforcement action. In this case, you
should contact the DFO office in your area if you wish to obtain
DFO’s opinion on the possible options you should consider to avoid
contravention of the Fisheries Act.
You are required to comply with all municipal, provincial,
territorial and/or federal legislation that applies to the work
being carried out in relation to this Operational Statement.
In British Columbia, please contact the
Water Stewardship Division, Ministry of Environment for information
on the Provincial Water Regulation notification requirements when
planning to conduct public beach maintenance in or around BC waters.
The activities undertaken in this Operational Statement must
also comply with the
Species at Risk Act. For general information on aquatic
SARA species visit the following web site:
and/or contact DFO by email at:
If you have questions regarding this Operational Statement, please
refer to the list of Frequently Asked Questions
or contact DFO Regional Headquarters at 1-866-845-6776.
Please notify DFO 10 working days before starting your work by
filling out and sending the Pacific
Region Operational Statement notification form directly to DFO
Regional Headquarters. This information is requested in order to
evaluate the effectiveness of the work carried out in relation to
this Operational Statement. It is recommended that you keep a copy
of the Operational Statement at the work site to demonstrate to
Habitat and Fishery Officer staff that the conditions and measures,
as outlined in the OS, are being followed.
Area of Application
This Operational Statement applies to the province of British
Columbia and Yukon Territory freshwater systems only.
Measures to Protect Fish and Fish Habitat when Maintaining a
- Deck Sweeping
1.1. Adequately seal drains and open joints before sweeping
to prevent material from falling into the watercourse.
1.2. Clean and remove debris and sediment from drainage devices
and dispose of the material in a way that will prevent it from
entering the watercourse.
- Deck Washing
2.1. Sweep decks, including curbs, sidewalks, medians and drainage
devices to remove as much material as practical before washing.
2.2. Adequately seal drains and open joints before washing to
prevent sediment-laden wash-water from entering the watercourse.
2.3. Direct wash-water past the ends of the bridge deck to a
vegetated area to remove suspended solids, dissipate velocity
and prevent sediment and other deleterious substances from entering
the watercourse. If this cannot be achieved, use silt fences
or other sediment and erosion control measures to prevent wash-water
from entering the watercourse.
2.4. When extracting water from a watercourse, ensure the intakes
of pumping hoses are equipped with an appropriate device to
avoid entraining and impinging fish. Guidelines to determine
the appropriate mesh size for intake screens may be obtained
from DFO (Freshwater Intake End-of-Pipe Fish Screen Guidelines
(1995), available at
2.5. Where possible, avoid using small streams as a source for
- Removal and Application of Protective Coatings
3.1. Remove paint or protective coatings in a manner that prevents
any paints, paint flakes, primers, blasting abrasives, rust,
solvents, degreasers or other waste material from entering the
3.2. Use measures such as barges or shrouding to trap and prevent
blasting abrasives, protective coatings, rust and grease from
entering the watercourse.
3.3. Contain paint flakes, abrasives, and other waste materials
for safe disposal.
3.4. Store, mix and transfer paints and solvents on land and
not on the bridge to prevent these materials from entering the
watercourse in the event of a spill.
3.5. Do not clean equipment in the watercourse or where the
wash-water can enter the watercourse.
- Removal of Debris (e.g., including woody debris, garbage,
4.1. Unless the debris accumulation is an immediate threat to
the integrity of the piers and abutments, time debris removal
to avoid disruption to sensitive fish life stages by adhering
to appropriate fisheries
4.2. Limit the removal of material to that which is necessary
to protect piers and abutments.
4.3. Remove debris by hand or with machinery operating from
shore or a floating barge.
- Structural Repairs and Reinforcements
5.1. Use barges or shrouding to trap and prevent concrete and
other bridge materials from entering the watercourse.
5.2. If minor replacement rock reinforcement/armouring is required
to stabilize eroding areas around the immediate area of existing
bridge structures (e.g., abutments and/or wing walls), the following
measures should be incorporated:
5.2.1. Place appropriately-sized, clean rocks into the eroding
5.2.2. Do not obtain rocks from below the
water mark (HWM) of any water body.
5.2.3. Avoid the use of rock that is acid-generating. Also avoid
the use of rock that fractures and breaks down quickly when
exposed to the elements.
5.2.4. Install rock at a similar slope to maintain a uniform
stream bank and natural stream alignment.
5.2.5. Ensure rock does not interfere with fish passage or constrict
the channel width.
- If working from land, install effective sediment and erosion
control measures before starting work to prevent the entry of
sediment into the watercourse. Inspect them regularly during
the course of construction and make all necessary repairs if
any damage occurs.
- While this Operational Statement does not cover the clearing
of riparian vegetation, the removal of select plants may be
required. This removal should be kept to a minimum and limited
to the right-of-way of the bridge.
- Operate machinery on land (above the
HWM) or on the water
(i.e., from a barge or vessel) in a manner that minimizes disturbance
to the banks or bed of the watercourse.
8.1. Machinery is to arrive on site in a clean condition and
is to be maintained free of fluid leaks, invasive species and
8.2. Wash, refuel and service machinery and store fuel and other
materials for the machinery away from the water to prevent any
deleterious substance from entering the water.
8.3. Keep an emergency spill kit on site in case of fluid leaks
or spills from machinery.
8.4. Restore banks to original condition if any disturbance
- Stabilize any waste materials removed from the work site
to prevent them from entering the watercourse. This could include
covering spoil piles with biodegradable mats or tarps or planting
them with grass or shrubs.
- Vegetate any disturbed areas by planting and seeding with
native trees, shrubs or grasses and cover such areas with mulch
to prevent erosion and to help seeds germinate. All seeding
and/or planting trees should follow the DFO guidance on
If there is insufficient time remaining in the growing season,
the site should be stabilized (e.g., cover exposed areas with
erosion control blankets to keep the soil in place and prevent
erosion) and vegetated the following spring.
10.1. Maintain effective sediment and erosion control measures
until re-vegetation of disturbed areas is achieved.