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The Municipality of West Nipissing has approximately 125 municipal drains located primarily in agricultural areas and rural areas, which may affect homeowners and property owners.

What is a Municipal Drain?

A municipal drain is a drainage system, primarily located in rural agricultural areas. Most municipal drains are either ditches or closed systems such as pipes or tiles buried in the ground. They can also include structures such as dykes or berms, pumping stations, buffer strips, grassed waterways, storm water detention ponds, culverts and bridges. Some creeks and small rivers are considered to be municipal drains.

Municipal Drains improve drainage on agricultural lands and remove excess water collected by roadside ditches, residential lots, industrial lands, and other properties in rural areas. Without municipal drains, many areas would be subjected to regular flooding, reduced production from agricultural land, and increased public health risks.

According to the Drainage Act, there are three key elements of a municipal drain that distinguishes them from other drainage ditches and buried pipes:

  1. Community Project: The drain becomes a “communally accepted”project through prescribed petitioning by the landowners to their local municipality.
  2. Legal Existence: Municipal Drains are authorized through a by-law adopting an engineer’s report.
  3. Municipal Infrastructure: The Municipality is responsible for repairing and maintaining the municipal drain.
Dos and Don’ts for Property Owners

You should

  • Find out the name of your local drainage superintendent;
  • Contact the Municipality for information on the municipal drains that may affect your property;
  • Find out how the municipal drain affects your property:
    • How much is your property assessed?
    • Are there any buried municipal drains that cross beneath your land?
    • Is there a municipal working space along or above a municipal drain on your property?
  • Remove debris from any catch basins that may be located on your property or the adjoining road to reduce the possibility of property damage during storm events
  • Observe the drains located on your property and report any problems to the drainage superintendent or the Municipality

You can expect

  • Municipal maintenance on the drain located on your property. The Municipality will periodically arrange to enter onto your property and perform the necessary work. You will be billed for your share of the cost.
  • The working space along the drain to be accessed by maintenance equipment and the land to be disrupted appropriately. Because this working space is a form of easement, you will not be paid for any damages that occur on this land.
  • The possibility of being billed for work that occurred before you owned the property. Municipalities have the right to accumulate the cost of maintaining a drain for up to five years or $5,000.

You should not

  • Plant trees or build structures in the municipal drain area. Along every municipal drain is an unregistered working space that the Municipality has the right to use to maintain or repair the drain. If the space is not accessible and there is an obstruction to the maintenance equipment, you may have to pay the cost of removing the obstruction.
  • Store materials such as brush, lumber, or other floatable materials near the drain. During storm events, they could float away and block the drain.
  • Install a culvert or bridge without authorization to do so. Unauthorized work could result in damages to the drain or to other landowners, and you would be responsible for paying the cost or repairing the damages.
  • Direct septic system waste, milkhouse waste, barnyard and manure storage runoff, or other pollutants directly into municipal drains. All municipal drains eventually connect with the many beautiful lakes, rivers and streams located in Ontario.
Request for Municipal Drain Maintenance

To request maintenance on a Municipal Drain, please submit a service request or contact us at or 705-753-2250.

Approximately three drains per year are constructed requiring new Engineer’s Reports. Municipal Drains are administered by the Municipality of West Nipissing under the authority of the Drainage Act and are governed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Appeals on assessments pursuant to the Drainage Act are heard by the West Nipissing Court of Revision. 

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