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

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Dredging

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

Dredging is the removal of wetlands or State open water soils or sediments through the use of mechinal, hydraulic, or pneumatic tools or other means necessary to restore or maintain a lake, pond, resevoir to its original bottom contours. In some cases dredging activites are regulated by the DEP's Office of Dredging and Sediment Technology. In additon, to the regulations and standards administered by the Office of Dredging and Sediment Technology dredging projects are also regulated by the Division of Land Use Regulation and dredging projects would require approvals from both.

Depending upon where in the State your property is located and what special 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, or if you are not sure if your property is located in a Coastal Area 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 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.

Conducting dredging activities within regulated areas requires authorization of some type under the Flood Hazard Area Control Act rules. 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 dredging. 

Dredging involves the removal of sediment and/or material from a waterway.  Dredging is a regulated activity in all coastal waters of the State, including man-made lagoons.  There are no coastal exemptions or permits-by-rule available for dredging activities.  However, there are several coastal general permits available for specific dredging activities.  If the proposed dredging project does not meet the requirements of one of the available general permits, a Waterfront Development Individual permit will be required.  For authorization of a dredging activity under an Individual permit, the project must comply with the applicable regulations, such as the Maintenance Dredging rule (N.J.A.C. 7:7E-4.6) and/or the New Dredging rule (N.J.A.C. 7:7E-4.7), in the Coastal Zone Management Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:7E-1.1 et seq.). 

A separate Coastal Wetlands  permit may be required if the project will disturb mapped coastal wetlandsA separate Freshwater Wetlands permit may be required if the project will disturb unmapped coastal wetlands, freshwater wetlands, or associated transition areas. 

Please refer to the “Jurisdiction” section of the "Coastal Permitting" section of the websiteto 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 permits and exemptions for a project depend on where your project is proposed.

These general permits may apply to your project –

  • Coastal General Permit 20 authorizes minor maintenance dredging in a man-made lagoon provided it meets all the requirements of this general permit.  For information on the requirements of this general permit, please  refer to N.J.A.C. 7:7-7.20.
  • Coastal General Permit 32 authorizes the 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 provided it meets all of the requirements of this general permit. Please refer to N.J.A.C. 7:7-7.32 for information on the requirements of this general permit
  • Coastal General Permit 33 authorizes the 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 provided it meets all of the requirements of this general permit. Please refer to N.J.A.C. 7:7-7.33 for information on the requirements of this general permit.
  • Coastal General Permit 34 authorizes the 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 provided it meets all of the requirements of this general permit.  Please refer to N.J.A.C. 7:7-7.34 for information on the requirements of this general permit.

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.

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: January 9, 2014