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

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

Dredging is the removal of wetlands, State open water soils, or sediments through the use of mechanical, hydraulic, or pneumatic tools in an effort to restore or maintain original bottom contours of waterbodies.  In some cases, dredging activities are regulated by the Department’s Office of Dredging and Sediment Technology and the Division of Land Use Regulation.  Therefore, authorization(s) from both entities may be required. 

Dredging may result in impacts to “special areas” that are regulated by the Department.  Therefore, it is important to closely examine a proposed project relative to the sensitive areas on site.  Special areas can be rudimentarily determined using the Department’s online mapping service, NJ-GeoWeb

The above tabs provide additional information on permit requirements relating to dredging.  For impacts to streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, flood plains, flood ways, riparian zones, please see the "Flood Hazard" tab. For impacts to special coastal areas, please see the "Coastal" tab. For impacts to Freshwater Wetlands, see the "Freshwater Wetlands" tab.  Information on Tidelands can be found by selecting the "Tidelands" tab.

The dredging or removal of freshwater wetlands or State open water soils or sediments requires a Freshwater Wetlands (FWW) permit. Several FWW General Permits (GP) are available for these types of activities, depending upon what activities are being proposed.

GP1-Maintenance and repair of existing features - May be obtained if you have are removing accumulated sediment from an exsiting stormwater managment basin that does not have a stream entering or exiting it and are only impacting freshwater wetlands or State open waters contained within the basin.

GP13-Lake Dredging - May be obtained if you are removing palustrine emergent (freshwater, non woody plant material) wetlands or State open water soils or sediments necessary to restore or maintain a lake, pond, resevoir to its original bottom contours. In some instances a GP13 is issued in conjunction with a GP18 for dam repairs and the removal of sediment accumulated behind the dam. A GP 13 does not include any vehicular access to the lake or pond for dreding equipment, all dredge material must be disposed of in a non regulated are, and in some cases musty be tested for contaminants. Please note, lowering of lake or pond in order to accomplish a dredging project needs approval from the Department's Division ofFish and Wildlife.

GP15-Mosquito control activites - May be obtained if the excavation or removal of dredge material in a wetland or State open water necessary for mosquito control water management activities conducted by a county mosquito control agency or by a Federal agency on Federal land and the project proposal is submitted through the State Office of Mosquito Control Coordination.

GP26-Minor channel or stream cleaning for local government agencies - May be obtained by a county, municipality, or a designated agency to conduct activities in wetlands, transition area, and State open waters within their jurisdiction necessary to remove accumulated sediment, debris, and garbage in order to desnag a stream to remove obstructions from flow. Material may not be removed below the natural bed or the stream, and all removed material must be deposited in a non-regulated upland. No more than 500 linear feet or 15 feet in wdith may be cleaned, and a GP26 can not be obtained for Pinelands waters, catergory one waters, or in an area of threatened or endangered species habitat associated with it's wetlands.

Dredging within regulated areas requires authorization of some type under the Flood Hazard Area Control Act rules.  Assuming there is no jurisdiction pursuant to the Coastal Zone Management rules at N.J.A.C. 7:7, 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 Flood Hazard Area Control Act rules.  There are no Flood Hazard Permits-by-rule or General Permits available for dredging.

If the proposed project is regulated pursuant to the Coastal Zone Management rules, then no separate Flood Hazard approval is required.  In these instances, the applicant need only submit a report and plans demonstrating compliance with the Flood Hazard Area Control Act rules as part of the coastal permit application.

Pursuant to the Coastal Zone Management rules at N.J.A.C. 7:7, dredging is the removal of sediment located waterward of the spring high water line and dredging does not include excavation.  Dredged material is the sediment removed from below the spring high water line. 

Dredging is a regulated activity in all coastal waters of the State, including man-made lagoons.  There are no coastal exemptions, Permits-by-rule, or General Permits-by-Certification available for dredging activities.  However, several General Permits are available for specific dredging activities.  If the proposed dredging project does not qualify for one of the available General Permits, a CAFRA, Coastal Wetlands, and/or Waterfront Development Individual Permit may be required.  In addition, a Freshwater Wetlands Permit may be required if the project proposes disturbances to unmapped coastal wetlands, freshwater wetlands, or associated transition areas. 

The “Jurisdiction” tab of the "Coastal Areas" webpage can help you determine which areas of your site may be regulated.  The availability of certain permits depends on the project’s location.

Potentially applicable General Permits (GPs):

GP 16 - authorizes minor maintenance dredging in man-made lagoons

GP 27 - authorizes dredging of sand from a man-made lagoon deposited as a result of a storm event for which the Governor declared a State of Emergency

GP 28 - authorizes dredging of material from a waterway at a residential or commercial development deposited as a result of the failure of a bulkhead as a consequence of a storm event for which the Governor declared a State of Emergency

GP 29 - authorizes dredging and management of material from a marina deposited as a result of a storm event for which the Governor declared a State of Emergency

Please contact the Division’s Technical Support Center at (609) 777-0454 should you require further assistance.

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.  

Dredging activities that are 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. 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.  Dredging material disposal that is proposed on land, in an area that is currently landward of the mean high water line but was, at some point flowed by the tide, may require a tidelands grant.

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, for instructions 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 FAQ.

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Last Updated: July 6, 2015