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Permitting and Authorizations

While the regulations often require a permit or authorization, the method of permitting or approval, type of permitting, or waiver of permitting can take many different forms. The information on this page and subpages outline the permitting and authorizations of the Chapter 105 Water Obstruction and Encroachment regulations, the Chapter 106 Floodplain Management regulations, 401 Water Quality Certification, and the 404 Joint Permit Process with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

This webpage only covers permitting and authorizations related to Chapters 105 and 106 and 401 Water Quality Certification. It is important to note that if a permit or approval is required under one of these regulatory programs, this does not mean that additional permits or approvals are not required. DEP has the Permit Application Consulting Tool (PACT) to assist applicants with determining which DEP permits and regulations may apply and assist in setting up pre-application meetings with DEP.


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Chapter 105 Water Obstruction and Encroachment Permits and Authorizations

Activities which are regulated under Chapter 105 can be broken down into the following levels of authorization types:

1. Waiver of Permitting Requirements. Specific activity(ies) that meet requirements for permitting requirements to be waived and no approval from DEP is required. Activities with permitting requirements waived can be viewed in the Chapter 105 regulations at 25 Pa. Code § 105.12. Owners wishing confirmation of eligibility under a waiver may contact the appropriate DEP office. Note, qualifying for a waiver still means that the owner must comply with the Chapter 105 regulations.

2. Waiver of Permitting Requirements – Environmental Assessment Approval Required. Activity(ies) that meet requirements of permitting requirements to be waived but still require an Environmental Assessment must be approved by DEP. These are activities under waivers 11 and 16 within the Chapter 105 regulations found at 25 Pa. Code § 105.12(a)(11) & (16). These relate to the removal of abandoned dams, water obstructions and encroachments, and to restoration activities.

3. General Permit Authorization. For activity(ies) to qualify for a General Permit Authorization, registration must be submitted to and approved by DEP or Delegated County Conservation District. General Permits are permits that have already been issued by DEP for projects that are similar in nature. When submissions are made to DEP, those submissions are registering to use the General Permit for their water obstruction or encroachments and to abide by the General Permit’s terms and conditions. More detail is provided on the General Permits webpage.

4. Small Project Type – Individual permit Application. Activity(ies) qualifying for a Small Project Type Individual Permit Application. Those activities which do not meet the criteria for waiver of permitting requirements or for General Permits may meet the criteria for a Small Project Type of the Individual Permit Application. Small Project Type applications are for projects which will have an insignificant impact on the safety and protection of life, health, property, or the environment and cannot be located in wetlands. More detailed information can be found in the individual permit application instructions and 25 Pa. Code § 105.13(f).

5. Standard Type – Individual Permit Application. For activity(ies) that do not qualify for any other type of approval or permit application type quality for a Standard Type Individual Permit Application. If a project or activity is not eligible for a waiver of permitting requirements, a general permit, or small project application type, then the only applicable permit application type is the Standard Type Individual Permit Application. See the individual permit application instructions.

Submerged Lands of the Commonwealth – Submerged Lands License Agreements (SLLA)

Submerged Lands in Pennsylvania are any waters and permanently or periodically inundated lands owned by the Commonwealth. This includes lands in the beds of navigable lakes, rivers, and streambeds, declared public highways which are owned and held in trust by the state known as Submerged Lands of this Commonwealth.

Under Chapter 105, SLLAs are required for structures placed on, over, or under Submerged Lands of this Commonwealth and can only be obtained when an applicant applies for a Chapter 105 Dam Permit or Water Obstruction and Encroachment Permit. The total area of submerged lands occupied may not exceed 25 acres as granted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Occupation of submerged lands greater than 25 acres requires an authorization by the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Information on Submerged Lands License Agreements, the types and fees can be found in the regulations at 25 Pa. Code § 105.31 through 105.35.

DEP’s List of Streams Subject to the Submerged Lands License Program

Chapter 106 Floodplain Management Permits

There are two types of Chapter 106 permit applications. A standard application type, and a Site Restoration Permit. Chapter 106 can be found in its full text on the PA Code website.

The site restoration permit is only for the removal of a highway obstruction or obstruction owned or maintained by the Commonwealth, a political subdivision of the Commonwealth or a public utility. All other applications are a standard application and use the Individual Chapter 105 Permit Application Form and Instructions. See the Forms, Publications and Guidance page.

Federal Permitting – Joint Permitting Process Through DEP

DEP has a joint application process with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for the Federal Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act permits. As part of this process the USACE has issued the Pennsylvania State Programmatic General Permit 6. Under this process, DEP reviews the Chapter 105 applications which it receives as a one-stop-shop for both state and federal permitting. In most instances DEP or Delegated County Conservation Districts can issue both state and federal permit authorization. However, if it is unable to issue the federal authorization, the application is forwarded by DEP to the USACE for its review. This process saves the public and regulated community time and provides for review efficiency. For more information see the Forms, Publications, and Guidance webpage.

401 Water Quality Certification

Section 401 of the Federal Clean Water Act requires that an applicant for a federal license or permit must obtain water quality certification from the appropriate state. To submit a 401 Water Quality Certification Request, you must submit a request to DEP along with an environmental assessment. At this time, DEP does not have a separate form for a 401 Water Quality Certification since there are ongoing changes in the federal 401 Water Quality Certification Rule.

To submit a request for a 401 water Quality Certification, the requestor must submit the request to DEP which includes items required in the Federal 401 rule (The rule can be found and read at EPA’s website) and a Chapter 105 Environmental Assessment Form. Contact DEP to discuss what information to submit.

Tools and Information Which Can Assist with Applications

This list of tools, resources, and sites are specific to resources which may be helpful for application submission.