Remove invasive aquatic plants
The rules for removing invasive aquatic plants that pose a threat to Ontario’s environment, economy and society.
Effective June 1, 2017.
In Ontario, the beds of most water bodies are Crown land.
The ministry manages these lands under the Public Lands Act.
The Public Lands Act applies to the use of provincial Crown land and shore lands. There are some exceptions, including provincial parks and conservation reserves.
The Act does not apply to the use of federal lands and waterbodies (e.g., the Trent-Severn and Rideau Canal waterways).
You can remove invasive aquatic plants, if you follow the rules listed below.
This is a summary of the provincial laws. You can find a complete set of provincial rules under the act in:
Types of invasive aquatic plants
The rules apply to these plants only (by common name):
- Brazilian Elodea
- Curly-Leaved Pondweed
- Eurasian Water-Milfoil
- Eurasian and Northern Milfoil hybrid
- European Frog-Bit
- European Lake Sedge
- European Water Chestnut
- Flowering Rush
- Parrot Feather
- Phragmites (European Common Reed)
- Purple Loosestrife
- Rough (Great) Manna Grass
- Yellow Iris
- Water Hyacinth
- Water Lettuce
- Watermoss-Salvinia species
- Water Soldier
You do not need a work permit under the Public Lands Act, if you can follow all of these rules. You:
- are the waterfront property owner or conducting work on behalf of the property owner
- minimize the removal of native aquatic vegetation (e.g., wild rice)
- dispose of the plants/material you remove on dry land to prevent it from re-entering the water
- use, operate or store any wheeled or tracked machinery/equipment on dry land, or on a barge or vessel
- only use mechanical devices (e.g., rake, cutter bar) or your hands to remove plants, and do not dredge the bed of the waterbody
- do not carry out work during fish spawning season or during the time of other critical fish life stages, as set out in the In-water Work Timing Window Guidelines
When you need a work permit
You need a work permit to remove invasive aquatic plants, if you can't meet all of the rules in this article.
If you don't follow the rules or work without a work permit, when one is needed, you may be charged and fined.
How to get a work permit
To apply for a work permit:
- download and complete the Application for Work Permit Part 1 (PDF)
- download and complete Application to do Work on Shore lands Part 3 (PDF)
- include proof of ownership (e.g. deed)
- include sketches/drawings/survey plans indicating your property lines and where the work is taking place
- submit complete application by mail or in person to a local ministry office
Additional information may be required.
Waterfront property owners
You can only conduct work on shore lands directly in front of your property or where your property is fronted by a road allowance or shoreline reserve.
- refer to your property survey to confirm that your property extends to the water
- if a municipality or a third party owns the land between your property and the water, you will need their permission and a work permit to proceed
This diagram is for illustration purposes only.
You may also want to discuss the project with neighbours, before starting work.
If you plan to use certain chemicals or substances to remove plants, you will need approval from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.
Additional rules under the Invasive Species Act
In addition to the rules above, if you undertake certain activities for research or education, or for the prevention, control or eradication of a regulated prohibited invasive species, you will either:
- require an authorization under the Invasive Species Act; or must
- adhere to conditions specified in a prevention and response plan
For invasive plants regulated as restricted invasive species, an authorization under the Invasive Species Act is not required for specified activities if you take reasonable precautions to prevent the spread of the restricted invasive species outside the immediate area where the activity is taking place. For more information on Ontario’s invasive species regulations, including a list of prohibited and restricted invasive species, visit Managing invasive species in Ontario.
This applies to plants identified with an asterisk (*) under the “Types of invasive aquatic plants” section above.
NDMNRF) has completed prevention and response plans for European Water Chestnut (PDF) and Water Soldier (PDF). If you have questions about the need for an authorization under the Invasive Species Act, please contact email@example.com.
Report invasive plants
To report sightings, call the Invading Species Hotline:
Machinery should be kept in clean condition and free from fluid leaks.
If you suspect that the area could be contaminated, you should contact a local Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks office.
Report a spill
To report a spill, call the Spills Action Centre at
For properties along the Ottawa River, you must contact Infrastructure Ontario Property Services for more information:
Before you start any work, find out whether additional authorizations are required.
For example, you may need to check with:
- local conservation authority
- Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (for use of herbicides and for endangered and protected species)
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada
- Transport Canada
- local municipality/township
- other provincial ministries
- Ontario One Call (to see if hydro/gas lines could be impacted)
Remember that removing plants does not give you any right, title or interest in the Crown land.
- footnote[*] Back to paragraph Species listed in regulation under Ontario’s Invasive Species Act. If you undertake certain activities involving these species, additional rules under Ontario’s Invasive Species Act may apply. For more information on Ontario’s invasive species regulations, visit Managing invasive species in Ontario.