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Bureau of Waterways Engineering and Wetlands

This bureau’s mission is to provide for the comprehensive regulation, permitting and supervision of dams, reservoirs, and water obstructions and encroachments in order to protect the health, safety, welfare and property of the people, and to protect and maintain the natural resources of Pennsylvania. The Bureau of Waterways Engineering and Wetlands (BWEW) contains three program areas (Water Obstruction and Encroachment, Dam Safety and Flood Protection) under four divisions (Dam Safety, Project Development, Project Inspection and Wetlands Encroachment & Training).

The main statutes and regulations implemented by BWEW include:

Water Obstruction and Encroachment Program

This program encompasses both the Chapters 105 and 106 regulatory programs, 401 Water Quality Certification, and Joint Permitting Processes with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

  • Chapter 105: Water Obstructions and Encroachments in Streams, Floodways, Wetlands, and Bodies of Water (for dams, see Dam Safety Program Page)
    • Submerged Lands License Agreements (SLLA) for regulated water obstructions and encroachment under Chapter 105
    • Sand and Gravel Royalty Agreements between commercial dredging operations and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
  • Joint Permitting Process with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for Section 404 of Federal Clean Water Act and Section 10 Rivers and Harbors Act
  • Chapter 106: Obstructions in Floodplains for Commonwealth of PA or Political Subdivisions of the Commonwealth
  • 401 Water Quality Certification under Section 401 requirements of the Federal Clean Water Act.

Wetlands Encroachment and Training Division

This division ensures proper management of Pennsylvania’s waterways and provides aquatic resources protection through the development of regulations, procedures, and manuals, and provides guidance and training for program implementation in the DEP regional and other offices and the Chapter 105 delegated county conservation districts.  The Water Obstructions & Encroachments Section handles the review and processing of all Submerged Lands License Agreements and is responsible for review and authorization of mitigation banking permits, oversight and management of an in-lieu fee program, and the coordination of Sand and Gravel Royalty Agreements between commercial dredging operations and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.  The Environmental & Geological Services Section in this Division provides technical support to all BWEW Programs. The division is also responsible for the development of regulations, procedures, manuals and guidance related to Chapter 106 Floodplain Management Permits and Section 401 Water Quality Certificates.

Dam Safety

Dam Safety Division

This division oversees the regulation of approximately 3,400 dams and reservoirs throughout Pennsylvania in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of people and property downstream of dams. Another priority of the Division is the protection and consideration towards Pennsylvania’s environmental health. The goal is to assure proper planning, design, construction, maintenance, operation, monitoring and supervision of dams and reservoirs.

Flood Protection

BWEW operates one of the few state-level comprehensive flood protection programs in the United States. The program evaluates flood prone areas, designs stream improvement and flood protection facilities, and manages the construction of these projects. It also coordinates the non-federal cost share of federal flood control and bank stabilization projects designed and constructed by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services and the US Army Corps of Engineers. The program provides protection to communities during high water events by ensuring that Pennsylvania's existing flood protection projects are in a state of readiness and will function as designed.  The Project Development and Project Inspection divisions design and operate the Commonwealth’s Flood Protection Projects.

Project Development Division

This division is involved with the design of the Commonwealth’s flood protection projects and for smaller-scale projects provides assistance to communities and residents to repair and stabilize streambanks affected by flooding and erosion through its stream improvements program.

Project Inspection Division

This division manages the inspection and permitting of completed Commonwealth flood protection projects within Pennsylvania including annual project inspection and construction oversight.


Chapter 105 General Permits can now be submitted using DEPs electronic permitting system (e-permitting). DEP’s e-permitting system provides many benefits to the public and DEP. It allows for electronic submissions, integration of data into DEP’s information systems, and increased efficiency in reviewing permits. It also allows applicants to manage all their submissions made through e-permitting in one location. Currently, only Chapter 105 General Permits can be submitted through this system, but expansion into other Chapter 105 submissions is anticipated.

Contact Information

Mailing Address:

PA Department of Environmental Protection
Bureau of Waterways Engineering and Wetlands
PO Box 8460
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8460

Office Phone: 717-787-3411

Fax Number: 717-772-0409

Onsite Address:

400 Market Street
2nd Floor Rachel Carson State Office Building
Harrisburg, PA 17101