Surface Water Drainage Bylaw Overview

Having water flow away from your home’s foundation is very important. It’s also important to ensure that water draining away from your property is not flowing into your neighbours’ yards.

Surface drainage refers to the slope and condition of the clay or landscaped surface and its ability to direct water away from your home or garage and towards a storm drain.

Bylaw Details

St. Albert City Council approved a new Surface Water Drainage Bylaw at the May 25, 2015 Council meeting. The intent of the bylaw is to:

  1. Set clear expectations of property owners' responsibilities, roles, and consequences related to maintaining proper grade on their properties. 
  2. Focus Administration on resolving surface drainage complaints through education and corrective action; the offence clauses in the bylaw will typically be reserved for non-compliance issues.

The surface drainage bylaw includes:

  • the minimum distances where roof downspouts can be placed and where water can be directed to;
  • that owners must establish and maintain a finished grade in accordance with the approved lot grading, or best grading practices where a grading plan for the area is not available; 
  • that rough grade lot drainage approval is required on new developments;
  • that owners must comply with the terms and conditions of any restrictive covenant, easement agreement, utility right of way, or any other instrument registered on the certificate of title of that property in which the City has an interest.

The City will not be actively looking for bylaw infractions; investigations will proceed on a complaints-made basis. The City's primary role will be to review the situation and identify any surface drainage bylaw contraventions. Please note: 

  • The City will not promote any particular remediation method, except for clear bylaw infractions.
  • Property owners will be responsible for all remediation costs including design and construction. 
  • All parties (including the complainant) may have to undertake extensive landscaping repairs to ensure compliance with the bylaw.
  • Everyone has different expectations and tolerances towards surface drainage. There will be no guarantee that all complaints will require action by either the City or the property owner receiving the complaint.
  • The timeframe for resolution to any surface drainage issue will vary on a case-by-case basis and be influenced by:
    • existing staff workloads
    • volume and timing of complaints received
    • financial resources of the parties required to implement a solution.

The bylaw was developed by reviewing the surface drainage bylaws of several other Alberta municipalities, examining best practices for surface drainage, addressing known concerns within the parameters of the directive provided by Council, and consulting with the public.


The Surface Water Drainage Bylaw

Last edited: October 24, 2019