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Emergency Water Obstruction and Encroachment Permits

The Department may issue emergency Chapter 105 water obstruction and encroachment permits for activities which are necessary to alleviate an imminent threat to life, property, or the environment. Emergency Permits are issued by DEP upon request.

DEP can issue an emergency permit as fast as the same day it is notified in many situations.

See the Storm and Flooding Information webpage for additional information.

See also the Guidelines for Maintaining Streams in Your Community.

How to Obtain an Emergency Permit

There is no application for emergency permits.

Process: Call DEP to explain the concern, threat, or emergency situation and DEP will evaluate the situation. If you are ready to perform work that day, DEP can work with you to visit the site and issue the Emergency Permit in the field. Alternatively, DEP can issue the permit digitally via e-mail as appropriate.

To find the appropriate DEP office to contact, see our Contact Page. Note: County Conservation Districts cannot issue emergency permits.

DEP strongly encourages taking photographs so you can provide DEP staff with a better understanding of the emergency situation to help speed the processing of the permit. In addition, knowing what work you are specifically going to perform is also necessary for DEP to issue the Emergency Permit.

See the Frequently Asked Questions below for more helpful information.

Federal 404 and Section 10 Authorization: As part of DEP’s one-stop-shop process with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in most cases DEP can issue the federal authorization with the DEP Emergency Permit in the form of the Pennsylvania State Programmatic General Permit. When this is not possible, the information is forwarded on to the Army Corps of Engineers for their authorization.

Emergency Permits and Storm and Flooding Events

When large storm events impact Pennsylvania, DEP prepares and ensures its staff are made available for issuance of emergency permits. This can include work outside of normal business hours as necessary. In past storm event recovery, DEP has sometimes initiated on-site locations for the public to come and speak with DEP and potentially obtain emergency permits.

Not every action must have an emergency permit either. Some things like woody debris can be removed without a permit provided equipment does not enter the stream. See the Storm and Flooding Information Page for more info.

Need help determining if permits or other regulatory requirements from DEP are required for bridge and culvert maintenance and repair? 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.

Frequently Asked Questions About Emergency Permits


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