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The Waterway Construction Permit: I Have My Irrigation Permit, Now What?

Updated: Jul 17, 2020

By Ashley Ellixson

River with a house and barn in the background (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).

This week, I am continuing our discussion on water permits. I am not done yet! Last week we discussed the issue of what type of permit you might need in order to irrigate. Now, your Water Appropriation and Use Permit application received approval but you might need to construct a formation to ensure sufficient irrigating. For example, let us say you are constructing a dam in order for your crops to receive adequate water and that dam will affect a waterway or its floodplain. This is an illustration of a situation where you will likely also need a waterway construction permit.

Why do I need this approval?

Waterway construction regulations ensure that activities in a waterway or its floodplain does not cause flooding upstream or downstream, does not cause erosion and also protects current fish habitat and migration.

If you are planning on constructing a project that makes changes in the course, current, or cross section of the 100-year frequency floodplain you will be required to apply for a Waterway Construction Permit. As long as the project is not located in the stream channel or floodplain of a wild and scenic river as defined by the Natural Resources Article, §8-402, you may be eligible for approval. Agricultural projects that may require this permit include, but are not limited to, dams, ponds, and drainage outlets.

How do I apply for the permit?

You will need to submit a joint federal/state application to the Department’s Regulatory Services Coordination Office (RSC) along with 4 copies that will be distributed to the appropriate agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

In addition to the application, a site inspection may be required as well as public notification and an opportunity for comment of the activity/project has a significant impact. There may also be a public hearing. You may also be required to notify neighboring landowners of your anticipated project.

Fields with forest in the background (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).

It is also important to note that in addition to the waterway construction permit, you may be required to obtain one or all of the following approvals:

1) Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Protection Program

2) Erosion/sediment Control Plan

3) Stormwater management Plan

4) Local building Permits

Each of these approvals/plans are contingent on your unique waterway construction project which I will discuss further in future blog posts.

How long will it take to get permit approval?

Once you complete the application, you should receive approval within 10 months for MINOR PROJECTS and 12 months for MAJOR PROJECTS.

Minor Projects consist of minor repairs, temporary construction, and involve minor changes to existing projects. Minor Projects are not placed on public notice.

Major Projects propose permanent impacts on a waterway and/or its surrounding floodplain. Major projects are places on public notice.


The Waterway Construction Permit does require fees. Please see the link below for details:

How long will my permit be valid?

Permits may last up to five years and may be renewed for up to an additional five years. You must begin construction on your project within two years of approval.

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