Skip Navigation
Skip to Main Content

 

Joint Federal/State Permit Wetlands, Waterways and Floodplains

Background

CWA, Section 404 – Discharge of Dredged or Fill Material into Wetlands

Maryland Nontidal Wetlands Protection Act

Maryland Tidal Wetlands Act

Waterway and 100-Year Floodplain Construction Regulations

Procedures for Compliance

Background

Wetlands in the State of Maryland are protected under the following federal and state regulations:

  • Clean Water Act, Section 404
  • Maryland Nontidal Wetlands Protection Act
  • Maryland Tidal Wetlands Act
  • Waterway and 100-Year Floodplain Construction Regulations

Permitting programs for these regulations, both federal and state, along with Coastal Zone Consistency, are coordinated through MDE’s Water Management Administration – Regulatory Services Coordination Office.

Transportation construction projects that occur in, or around wetlands, waterways or floodplains will be subject to the requirements of these regulations and must submit the Joint Federal/State Application for the Alteration of Any Floodplain, Waterway, Tidal or Nontidal Weland in Maryland.
 

CWA, Section 404 – Discharge of Dredged or Fill Material into Wetlands

The US Army Corps of Engineers administers the federal permitting program for activities impacting all “navigable” waters of the U. S. and a broad range of wetlands.  Activities in wetlands for which permits may be required include, but are not limited to:

  • Placement of fill material
  • Ditching activities when the excavated material is sidecast
  • Levee and dike construction
  • Mechanized land clearing
  • Land leveling
  • Transportation infrastructure construction
  • Dam construction
     

The final determination of whether an area is a water or a wetland under the jurisdiction of the Corp and whether the activity requires a permit must be made by the appropriate US Army Corps of Engineers District Office.

 

Maryland Nontidal Wetlands Protection Act

The goal of the Nontidal Wetlands Act is no overall net loss of nontidal wetland acreage and function.  MDE’s Nontidal Wetlands and Waterways Division oversees the permit process for construction projects affecting nontidal wetlands.  A permit is required for any activity that alters a nontidal wetland or its 25-foot buffer.  The 25-foot buffer is expanded to 100 feet for wetlands of special state concern as defined and designated in COMAR 26.23.06.  MDE regulates the following activities:
 

  • Grading or filling
  • Excavating or dredging
  • Changing existing drainage patterns
  • Disturbing the water level or water table
  • Destroying or removing vegetation
     

Some activities may qualify for a letter of exemption from permit and mitigation requirements; however, certain best management practices still must be followed.  Applicants will be advised if they qualify as part of the application review process.

 

Maryland Tidal Wetlands Act

The goal of the Tidal Wetlands Program is to manage tidal wetlands to provide reasonable use while furnishing essential resource protection. MDE regulated the following activities:

  • Filling of open water and vegetated wetlands
  • Construction of piers, bulkheads, revetments
  • Dredging
  • Marsh establishment


Waterway and 100-Year Floodplain Construction Regulations

 
Waterway construction regulations assure that activities in a waterway or its floodplain: do not create flooding on upstream or downstream property; maintain fish habitat and migration; and protect waterways from erosion.  Authorization is required for construction or repair of the following projects in a waterway or a 100-year floodplain:

  • Dams and reservoirs
  • Bridges and culverts
  • Excavation, filling or construction
  • Channelization
  • Changing the course, current, or cross-section of any stream
  • Temporary construction (e.g., utility lines)
  • Any other similar project

 

Procedures for Compliance

Application Process:

Whenever, a transportation activity will include disturbance of a wetland or depositing dredged or fill material into a wetland, the agency must complete a “Joint Federal/State Application for the Alteration of any Floodplain, Waterway, Tidal or Nontidal Wetland in Maryland” application.  Applicants are required to:

  • Demonstrate that proposed impacts to wetlands are necessary and unavoidable.  The application review process first eliminates, then reduces impacts through avoidance and minimization.
  • An alternatives analysis may be required as part of this process. 
  • Mitigation is required for all authorized impacts. 
  • Wetland mitigation monitoring is required and will extend beyond construction of an approved mitigation project.
     

Mail the original plus 6 copies of the application, plans, vicinity maps, and any supporting documentation to:

Maryland Department of the Environment
Water Management Administration
Regulatory Services Coordination Office
1800 Washington Boulevard, Suite 430
Baltimore, MD  21230
Telephone 410-537-3762 or 1-800-876-0200

Upon receipt of the application package, the Regulatory Services Coordination Office (RSC) determines what type of permit is necessary and will forward the application to the appropriate governmental agencies.  MDE conducts the permit application review in cooperation with local, state, and federal agencies.

Depending on the nature of the project, it may be advertised for comment and an opportunity for public informational hearing.  The applicant may be required to notify adjacent property owners.  If requested, a public informational hearing is conducted.

MDE may perform a site evaluation.

At the conclusion of the review process, MDE makes a decision on the application.  Upon receipt of final construction plans, a permit or letter of authorization may be issued by MDE.  For tidal wetlands, in some instances, a license may be issued by the Maryland Board of Public Works.

A State Water Quality Certification, which insures the protection of the waters of the State, is necessary for activities requiring a US Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 permit.  When an activity is approved by a nontidal wetlands and waterways authorization, the WQC is incorporated into that authorization.  When an activity is exempt from the requirement to obtain a nontidal wetlands and waterways authorization, an individual WQC is issued by MDE.

Term of Permit:  Nontidal Wetlands (Maximum of 5 years and extended for an additional 5 years.  Construction must be initiated within 3 years); Tidal Wetlands (Maximum of 3 years); Waterways and 100-Year Flood Plains (Maximum of 5 years and extended for an additional 5 years.  Construction must be initiated within 2 years.
 

Authority
Federal: CWA Section 404; State: Environment Article Title 16; COMAR 26.24 (Tidal Wetlands); Environment Article Title 5, Subtitle 5-901 through 5-911; Annotated Code of Maryland; COMAR 26.23 (Nontidal Wetlands); Environment Article Title 5, Subtitle 5-501 through 5-514;COMAR 26.17.04 (Waterway and 100-year Flood Plain)

Back to Planning Home

Last Updated on 

January 19, 2017