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Division of Land Use Regulation
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

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Dam

  • Overview
  • Freshwater Wetlands
  • Flood Hazard
  • Coastal
  • Tidelands

Dams are man made structures or earth, rock, concrete, and the like impounding large volumes of surface water and in many cases are regulated by the DEP's Bureau of Dam Safety and Flood Control. In additon, to the regulations and a standards administered by the Bureau of Dam Safety and Flood Control dams are also regulated by the Division of Land Use Regulation and repairs and modifications to exisiting dams and the creation of any new dams would require approvals from both.

Depending upon what areas your project may be impacting, different approvals for the Department may be needed. If you don't know what special areas are on your site, please check out the before you buy, before you build section of this website for guidance on determining if your site has one of these regulated special areas on it. If you know of, or have an idea of what special areas your proposed project will impact, you can click on any of the tabs above for more information.

 

The repair, rehabilitation, replacement, maintenance, reconstruction, or removal of a dam within freshwater wetlands, transition areas, and/or State open waters requires a Freshwater Wetlands (FWW) permit. One FWW General Permit (GP) is available for this activity, a GP18.

(GP18-Dam repair) [Link] - May be obtained if you are doing work to any serviceable dam within freshwater wetlands or transition areas and disturbing no more than 1 acre of those features. In addition, in order to obtain a GP18 you must have in hand or be in the process of obtaining an approval from the (Bureau of Dam Safety and Flood Control) [http://www.nj.gov/dep/damsafety/]. Please note, a GP18 is not for the construction of a new dam. If the dam repair cannot comply with the criteria for the above listed GP or a new dam is proposed to be constructed the applicant would need to apply for an (Individual Permit) [Link] (IP). An IP application would need to include a description as to why the project cannot be minimized to satisfy the General Permit criteria described in the links above.

The construction of a dam in regulated areas requires authorization of some type under the Flood Hazard Area Control Act rules. Authorization from the Division of Land Use Regulation, under the Flood Hazard Area Control Act rules, is not required for any dam, that is not part of a stormwater management basin, is located within a regulated area, and/or discharges to a regulated area, and is subject to the Dam Safety Standards, under N.J.A.C. 7:20. Authorization from the Department of Dam Safety is required for these types of dams. Please contact the Department of Dam Safety, at (609) 984-0859 for further clarification.

Please note that an authorization from the Department of Dam Safety does not mean that the dam is not regulated under the Coastal Zone Management (CZM) rules and the Freshwater Wetland rules. Authorization from the Division of Land Use Regulation is required for any activities within an area regulated by the Coastal Zone Management (CZM) rules and the Freshwater Wetland rules.

If the Department of Dam Safety does not regulate the dam, under the Flood Hazard Area Control Act rules, than the Division of Land Use Regulation would have regulatory authority. As for the specific type of authorization, this depends upon whether or not the project area is regulated under the Coastal Zone Management (CZM) rules.  Specifically, if regulated under CZM, then no separate flood hazard approval is required.  In this case, the applicant need only submit a report and plans demonstrating compliance with the Flood Hazard Area Control Act rules as part of the CZM permit application.

Assuming there is no jurisdiction under CZM, authorization may be granted under a Flood Hazard Area Verification and Individual Permit. The technical standards are described in Subchapters 9, 10 and 11 of the Rules. 

There are no Flood Hazard Permit by Rules and Flood Hazard General Permits available to permit Dams.  

 

The construction, reconstruction, repair, or maintenance of a dam in the coastal zone general requires an Individual permit.  There are no coastal exemptions, permits-by-rule, or general permits available for the construction, repair, maintenance or replacement of a dam.

Please refer to the “Jurisdiction” section of the "Coastal Permitting" section of the website to determine which areas regulated under the Coastal Permit Program Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:7-1.1 et seq.) and the Coastal Zone Management Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:7E-1.1 et seq.) occur on your site. The availability of certain exemptions or permits for a project depends on where your project is proposed.

In order to qualify for a CAFRA or Waterfront Development Individual permit or a Coastal Wetlands permit, the proposed dam construction or repair must comply with all applicable regulations found in the Coastal Permit Program Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:7-1.1 et seq.) and the Coastal Zone Management Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:7E-1.1 et seq.). 

Additional information regarding the Division’s coastal program can be found on the “Coastal Permitting”section of this website.  If necessary, please contact the Division’s Technical Support Center for further assistance.  Please also refer to the NJDEP’s Bureau of Dam Safety and Flood Control website for further information on dam construction, reconstruction, and removal.

Tidelands, also known as riparian lands, are all those lands now or formerly flowed by the mean high tide of a natural waterway; that is to say any land that is currently or was previously covered by tidal waters.  The State of New Jersey, and therefore the people of New Jersey, owns all Tidelands except for those to which it has already sold its interest in the form of a riparian grant.  It is important to note that the State generally does not own artificial waterways such as lagoons however, the State does claim those lands within a lagoon that were flowed by the mean high tide of a natural waterway which existed prior to the creation of the lagoon.

The construction of a new dam or the reconstruction of an existing dam that is proposed in a tidelands area may require a tidelands license if the activities are taking place at or below the mean high water line of a tidal waterway or a tidelands grant if the activities are taking place in an area that is currently landward of the mean high water line but was, at some point, flowed by the tide.

A tidelands license is a short term revocable rental document to use tidelands generally for structures such as docks, bulkhead extensions, mooring piles, and other temporary structures as well as for dredging projects. Licenses are project specific and expire after a finite term ranging from one to ten years. Most licenses may be renewed.

A riparian grant, or tidelands grant, is a deed from the State of New Jersey selling its tidelands. Tidelands grants are generally only issued for lands that have already been filled in and are no longer flowed by the tide.

For more information on tidelands instruments, please see the tidelands section of this website.

For information and instruction on how to determine whether you are in an area that may require either a license or a grant, or for information how to apply for Tideland instruments please see the "Before you Build, Before you Buy" webpage.

 

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Last Updated: May 21, 2014