Riparian Setbacks Matrix Models


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Aquality developed the Riparian Setback Matrix Model (RSMM) to help delineate development or environmental reserve and easement setbacks for riparian areas. It is a scientifically and legally defensible model that can be used to establish setbacks for development, determine the size of environmental reserves, and conservation easements. It has been incorporated into the bylaws of Lac La Biche County (formerly Lakeland County), and is currently in development or approval in the M.D. Foothills, Leduc County, Sturgeon County, and the City of Grande Prairie.

The RSMM incorporates such features as vegetation type and abundance, bank slope and height, groundwater influence, and various soil characteristics to determine the most appropriate setback distance. It can also be adapted to the intended role of the setback; setback distances can be increased to improve removal of nutrient pollutants or maintenance of wildlife corridors are key, or reduced if the intended function is to increase bank or shoreline stability and integrity.

Aquality has also developed detailed Riparian Policies and/or Wetland Policies for Rocky View County (formerly the MD of Rocky View) and the Town of Strathmore. When the RSMM is incorporated into such policies at the municipal level, they form a comprehensive tool for managing and protecting riparian habitats within the context of growing development pressures.