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Program Updates

Water Obstruction & Encroachment Program

Current and recent program updates, news, and other important information related to DEP’s Water Obstruction and Encroachment Program, Chapter 105, Chapter 106, 401 Water Quality Certification, and PASPGP will be posted on this webpage. Information that is no longer relevant will be removed from the webpage.

Availability of Trenchless Technology Guidance – February 24, 2024

On February 24, 2024 DEP published its Final Trenchless Technology Guidance Document (310-2100-003) in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Additional information is available on the Trenchless Technologies Resource page. This guidance: outlines the steps and options to consider, and implement as appropriate, when proposing to use a trenchless technology installation method on any portion of a project; has been prepared to provide information to project proponents that may help to prevent environmental issues, improve project planning, permitting and compliance with applicable regulatory requirements; establishes a common, complete and consistent level of understanding of the information the Department may request to adequately review permit applications proposing trenchless technology; was drafted in concurrence with the existing regulations. Trenchless technology use is not specifically referenced in any Department regulation; however, the environmental issues that can result from unplanned failures of this construction method can have regulatory implications. This guidance provides specific recommendations to meet relevant Department regulations for this construction methodology and to anticipate, monitor for and respond to failures in a manner that avoids, minimizes and mitigates environmental issues that may arise during construction.

New PA DEP Bridge & Culvert Maintenance and Repair Tool Launched Online – October 19, 2023

DEP’s Bridge and Culvert Maintenance & Repair Tool is an online interactive tool designed to assist bridge and culvert owners in determining what, if any, permit and notification requirements are needed for bridge and culvert maintenance and repair. By answering questions about the bridge and culvert, the nature of the proposed work, and to avoid delays the tool will direct you on how to move forward with your project.

Recorded Webinar on New Alternatives Analysis Guidance Available - October 13, 2023

DEP held a public training webinar on its new Guidance for Developing a Chapter 105 Alternatives Analysis on September 29, 2023. This webinar recording is now available for viewing anytime on PA DEP’s Clean Water Academy.

PIESCES Revised Interim Wetland Credit Fees – Effective October 1, 2023

The Interim Wetland Function Based Credit Fees increased October 1, 2023. Due to a recent programmatic review, adjustments to the interim fee schedule were necessary to ensure sufficient fees to cover the costs of providing compensatory mitigation. Additional details can be found on the PIESCES Fees and Processing page.

August 5, 2023: Final Technical Guidance Available – Guidance for Developing a Chapter 105 Alternatives Analysis

DEP’s Bureau of Waterways Engineering and Wetlands (BWEW) has published the Final technical guidance document, Guidance for Developing a Chapter 105 Alternatives Analysis Document # 310-2100-002, in the PA Bulletin. The technical guidance provides guidance on the preparation of a Chapter 105 alternatives analysis. This TGD consolidates existing guidance and expands upon that guidance.

Notice of Availability of the Technical Guidance was published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on August 5, 2023 at 53 Pa.B. 4501. The guidance provides Chapter 105 permit applicants with a comprehensive understanding of what DEP is looking for in a Chapter 105 alternatives analysis and highlights some of the major elements of the analysis at various scales for a proposed project.  This guidance will improve permitting efficiency by minimizing, if not eliminating, the lack of guidelines and understanding of the various regulatory concepts which apply to the alternatives analysis requirements in Chapter 105. By following this guidance document, permit applicants should be able to avoid common deficiencies. 

A public webinar will be held on September 29, 2023. You can register for this event online. Afterwards, this webinar will be recorded and placed on DEP’s Clean Water Academy.

July 31, 2023: Now Available-Best Management Practices for Timber Harvest Operations

DEP’s Bureau of Clean Water and Bureau of Waterways Engineering and Wetlands have completed the Best Management Practices for timber Harvest Operations, Document # 3850-BK-DEP5577. This publication replaces an older version titled Timber Harvest Operations Field Guide for Waterways, Wetlands and Erosion Control.

March 31, 2023: Northern Long-eared Bat Now Endangered, Impacting Permit Reviews

On November 29, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) published notice in the Federal Register of its decision to protect the Northern Long-eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis) as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This is primarily due to the threat posed by white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has devastated many bat populations. The original effective date for this rule was January 30, 2023; however, this was extended until March 31, 2023. More information can be found on the USFWS website.

PA DEP administers federal permitting as part of the joint one-stop permitting process in coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) through the Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia Districts for activities requiring Corps authorization under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 and/or Section 404 of the Clean Water Act through the Pennsylvania State Programmatic General Permit-6 (PASPGP-6). The PASPGP-6 requires compliance with the ESA, and in coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the listing of the Norther Long-eared Bat requires updated PNDI screenings for Chapter 105 permit applications, and that all previously authorized permit applications (construction pending or has commenced), new permit applications, and all pending permit applications must have an updated PNDI search receipt dated on or after March 31, 2023.

On March 31, 2023 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a Special Public Notice (Special Public Notice-23-17) establishing a special condition to all existing authorizations under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 and/or Section 404 of the Clean Water Act authorizations/verifications in Pennsylvania.

This special condition is added to all Section 10 and/or 404 permits previously authorized or verified in Pennsylvania, including PASPGP-6. It requires that for any authorization or verification where work was not completed by March 31, 2023 an updated habitat screening using the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Index (PNDI) be conducted, and that any and all avoidance measures listed in the PNDI for norther Long-Eared Bat are conditions of these permits (including PASPGP-6) and therefore must be followed.

This change in the federal permits will affect DEP reviews as outlined below.

Already approved DEP permit Applications or Authorizations:

Any permittee who was required to complete a PNDI search to obtain a DEP permit and has not completed the work authorized by the permit by March 31, 2023 is still responsible for complying with the new listing of the Northern Long-eared Bat as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). Further, if the permittee obtained a federal Section 404 and/or Section 10 permit (such as PASPGP-6) that permit has been amended to require the new search and to ensure compliance with the ESA. To ensure compliance, these permittees should complete a new PNDI search using the PNDI tool, and conduct any and all avoidance measures listed on the PNDI receipt, or avoidance measures required in a clearance letter from USFWS.

Permit Applications Under Review:

For applications that are currently under review by DEP (i.e. submitted before March 31), DEP will conduct the PNDI screening and obtain an updated PNDI Receipt unless the applicant confirms with the lead reviewer that it will submit an updated PNDI receipt to the DEP as part of its application.

If the new PNDI receipt states Further Review Required with USFWS at the site, the applicant will be made aware of the concern. The applicant will then need to follow the instructions provided on the new PNDI Receipt to obtain appropriate clearances from USFWS. If the PNDI Receipt contains avoidance measures for the Northern Long-Eared Bat, the application will have to indicate compliance with these avoidance measures or perform coordination with the USFWS for clearance or approval of the project.

If DEP is unable to determine answers to screening questions, or otherwise unable to perform a PNDI search for applications under review they will inform the applicant and instruct them to perform a new PNDI Search.

New Permit Applications Submitted to DEP:

New applications with a PNDI Receipt dated before March 31, 2023 will be returned or the applicant will be notified per the Standard Operating Procedure outlined for that type of permit. Following the SOP, DEP will inform the applicant in writing of the need to conduct a new PNDI screening and to submit an updated PNDI Receipt before DEP's review of the application can continue. The applicant will need to perform a new PNDI screening and obtain a new PNDI Receipt and submit the new PNDI receipt to DEP with any other appropriate documentation.

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