The law now states that owners of waterfront properties are obliged to restore the first 10 meters of their shoreline. The 10 meter strip is measured from the high-water line, which is based on two-year floodplains. This represents the highest water level in the spring, averaged over a period of two years. If your waterfront property is sloped, you do not measure the property itself back from the water’s edge rather draw an imaginary perpendicular line at the edge of the water and then measure 10 meters inwards towards your property from this point.
The purpose of this law is to recreate the natural bio-filter that has been destroyed by removing natural vegetation. One of the problems facing our lakes and watercourses is that the inflow contains too much nitrogen and phosphorus that comes from our septic systems and from many of the products we use in daily life. Plants can absorb nitrogen and phosphorus; in fact they need these substances, which is why the three main ingredients of fertilizer are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. However there is a limit to how much of these substances plants can absorb. When we remove trees and vegetation from our shorelines we eliminate a large part of the natural filter. There is a lot of talk these days about waterfront lots on lakes and watercourses, but in fact the same applies to all lots. Think of the watershed and talk to your neighbours about it....
The goal is clear: we want to restore the vegetation filter. This also applies in cases where the grass or any ground cover extends right to the edge of the water as well as to spots where retaining walls have been erected. Stone and cement walls absorb and retain heat and transfer the heat to the water. The added heat makes the situation worse. The goal in this case would be to cover the wall with vegetation such as ivy. Remember that rebuilding a stone or cement wall that has collapsed in spots is prohibited. You still have the right to a 5 meter opening to get to the lake or your dock. This access must be at an angle to the water to prevent it from becoming a canal for unfiltered surface runoff.
The plants that should be used in naturalizing shoreline are mainly indigenous to Quebec and are perfectly suited to our climate conditions. To improve your chances of success, you have to consider not only the type of soil and the amount of sun, but also, because you are dealing with a shoreline, the level of humidity in the soil.
Your municipality has the legal right to legislate regarding environmental matters. The obligation that is in force to restore shorelines applies to the first ten (10) metres of your waterfront property, measured from the high water mark as previously stated. This means it is forbidden to mow the grass or cut anything at all in the first 10 metres from the high water mark.
Although it is now a legal obligation, restoring shorelines is, above all, an excellent way to improve the environment!