Municipal Drains

Current Engineer's Report

  • To view the Sayer Drain Engineer's Report, click here.



West Nipissing Drainage Maps

Click on one of the links below to view drainage maps:



The Municipality of West Nipissing has approximately 125 municipal drains located primarily in agricultural areas and rural areas of the Municipality. Approximately 3 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. 


Perhaps you've just purchased property, and been told by your municiplality that you are assessed into a municipal drain. Perhaps you have owned a property for a couple of years and have recently discoverred that you are located in the watershed of a municipal drain. You're probably wondering, 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. 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. 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.

The Purpose of Municipal Drains

Municipal drains have been a fixture of rural 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 by 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 of the province would be subjected to regular flooding, reduced production from agricultural land and increased public health risks.

Why is it called a "Municipal Drain"?

There are many, many drainage ditches and burried pipes in the province, but not all of them are "municipal drains". So what distinguishes a municipal drain?

Municipal drains are created under the authority of the Drainage Act and are administered by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. There are three (3) key elements of a municipal drain:

1. Community Project: Landowners who need to solve a drainage problem may submit a prescribed petition under the Drainage Act to their local municipality, erquesting the establishment of a municipal drain. If certain criterias are met, the municipality appoints an engineer who prepares a report, identifying the proposed solution to the problem and how the costs will be shared. There are various meetings where landowners in the watershed of the municipal drain can voice their desires and concerns. There are also several appeal stages where they can voice their objections. So, the end result of the process is a "communally accepted" project.

2. Legal Existence: After all appeals have been heard and dealt with, the municipality passes a by-law adopting the engineer's report. The municipality then has the authority and the responsibility to construct the project. The cost of the work is assessed to the lands in the watershed in the same rations as contained within the engineer's report. So for a ditch or a pipe to be a municipal drain, there must be a by-law adopting an engineer's report.

3. Municipal Infrastructure: Once a municipal drain has been constructed under the authority of a by-law, it becomes part of that municipality's infrastructure. The local municipality, through its 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.

Do's and Don'ts for Property Owners

You should:

  • Find out the name of your local municipality's drainage superintendent.
  • If you do not have any information on the municipal drains that affect your property, make arrangements with your municipality to get copies. Please note you may have to pay for the photocopies.
  • 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 catchbasins that may be located on your property or the adjoining road. This type of ongoing preventative work can reduce the possibility of property damage during storm events.
  • As an involved landowner, you have a responsibility for the drains located on your property, so observe them. If you notice any problems, immediately notify the drainage superintendent or the local municipality.
  • Before purchasing a property, investigate how municipal drains may affect the property.

You can expect:

  • Municipalities must maintain their municipal drains. Therefore, if you have a municipal drain located on you property, you can expect that your municipality will periodically arrange to enter onto your property and perform the necessary work. After it is completed, you will be billed for your share of the cost.
  • For a period of time while the work is being completed, you can expect the working space along the drain to be accessed by the maintenance equipment and the land to be disrupted to degree. Because this working space is a form of an easement, you will not be paid for any damages that occur on this land.
  • Municipalities have the right to accumulate the cost of maintaining a drain for up to five years or $5,000. Therefore, it is possible that you may be billed for work that occured before you owned a property.

You should not:

  • Along every municipal drain is an unregistered working space that the municipality has the right to use to maintain or repair the drain. Keep this working space accessible and do not plant trees or build structures in this area. If you do, and it results in an obstruction to the maintenance equipment, you may have to pay the cost of removing that obstruction.
  • Don't store materials such as brush, lumber or other floatable material near the drain, because during storm events, it could float away and block the drain.
  • The local municipality is responsible for maintaining municipal drains on behalf of the community of landowners involved in a drain.  If you want to install a culvert or bridge on an open ditch municipal drain, or if a municipal drain requires maintenance, don't perform the work yourselfl instead notify your municipality. If you do unauthorized work on a drain and that work results in damages to the drain or to other landowners, you could be responsible for paying the cost or repairing the damages.
  • Although they are "man-made', all municipal drains eventually connect with the many beautiful lakes, rivers and streams located in Ontario. Do not direct septic system waste, milkhouse wastes, barnyard and manure storage runoff or other polluants directly to these drains.

Fact sheets from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (in PDF format):

What's a Municipal Drain?

Duties of the Landowner Under the Drainage Act

Municipal Drains and the Landowner

The Planning and Maintenance of an Erosion Control System 


What are Tile Loans?

Tile loan funds are available through the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and rural Affairs and are administered on a first come first served basis. The term of a loan is 10 years and repayement is due annually. The interest rate for the loans issued under the program will be 6%, fixed for the 10 year term of the loan. Interest is compounded annually and the loan can be paid out any time without penalty.

Fact sheet from Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (in PDF format):

The Tile Loan Program


More information is available by visiting the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs website.




Municipal Drain Maintenance

To complete and submit a municipal drain maintenance request, please click on the link below:


Contact Information

Municipality of West Nipissing
101-225 Holditch Street
Sturgeon Falls, ON P2B 1T1
Telephone: (705) 753-2250
Fax: (705)753-3950

Melanie Ducharme, Municipal Clerk / Planner
(705) 753-2250, ext 6926
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West Nipissing Court of Revision

The Court of Revision is a body which hears appeals on assessments pursuant to the Drainage Act.

Members of the West Nipissing Court of Revision are as follows:

  • Janet Parsons
  • Hubert Beaudry
  • Dan Schwartzentruber

Contact person:

Melanie Ducharme, Municipal Clerk / Planner
(705) 753-2250, ext 6926
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Links for fact sheet from the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs 


Cache Bay • Crystal Falls • Desaulniers • Field • Kipling • Lavigne • North Monetville • River Valley • Sturgeon Falls • Verner