Municipal Drains

You have just purchased a property and have been told that you are assessed for a municipal drain. Or, perhaps you have owned the property for a few years and have recently discovered that you are located in the watershed of a municipal drain. What does this mean? How does it affect me? What will it cost?

What is a Municipal Drain?

Physically, a municipal drain is simply a drainage system that is made of either open ditches or closed systems such as pipes or tiles buried in the ground. They can also be structures such as dykes or berms, pumping stations, buffer strips, grassed waterways, storm water retention ponds, culverts and bridges. Even some creeks and small rivers are now considered to be municipal drains. Municipal drains are primarily located in rural agricultural areas of the province.

Figure 1. Configuration of a municipal drain

The Purpose of Municipal Drains

Municipal drains have been a fixture in Ontario’s infrastructure since the 1800’s. Most municipal drains were constructed to improve the drainage of agricultural land by serving as the discharge point for private agricultural tile drainage systems. However, they also remove excess water collected along roadside ditches, residential lots, churches, schools, industrial lands, commercial lands and any other properties in rural areas. They are a vital component of the local infrastructure. Without them, many areas would be subject to regular flooding, reduced production on agricultural land and increased public health risks.

Municipal Infrastructure

Once a municipal drain has been constructed under the authority of a by law and an engineer’s report, it becomes part of the municipality’s infrastructure. The local municipality, through the Drainage Superintendent, is responsible for repairing and maintaining the municipal drain. In certain circumstances, the municipality can be held liable for damages for not maintaining these drains.

Any landowner who is assessed in a municipal drain may submit a request for cleaning, removing beaver dams or any other debris that may obstruct the drain. All

For information about drainage follow this link to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs at OMAFRA.

To view a map of existing drains, visit the United Counties of Prescott and Russell Interactive Map System.



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