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Waterways and Wetlands

Any proposed activity or structure located in or along a stream or wetland is likely to require a permit. There are regulations, known as the Chapter 105, Waterway Management rules and regulations that were created to protect the health, safety, welfare and property of the people; and to protect natural resources, water quality and the carrying capacity of water courses. These regulations are primarily administered by the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), however, the Conservation District has been delegated to administer parts of this program by providing information and acknowledging certain types of permits for water obstruction and encroachment activities. Activities and structures in or near a regulated stream or its adjacent floodway are administered by this program. A regulated stream is any channel with defined bed and banks that can convey water. It can be natural or man-made, perennial or intermittent.


General Permits (GPs) were created for activities or structures that do not pose a significant threat to flooding or the environment. A General Permit is a pre-approved set of conditions, construction limits, dimensions and other criteria which apply to many common types of projects. If the work that an applicant is proposing meets all of the conditions of the General Permit, then the applicant need only register his/her intent to use the General Permit, and receive acknowledgement after review from the Conservation District.

DEP's eLibrary for current permit forms

What is a stream?

Streams are bodies of water that carry along a clearly defined path, called a channel. Streams may vary in width from a few centimeters to several kilometers. Streams are important for several reasons:

  • They carry most of the water that goes from land to the sea. Therefore are important for the water cycle.

  • They are a major part of the process of erosion. A lot of the surrounding landscapes are controlled by stream erosion.

  • Streams are a major source of water and transportation.

Many forms of wildlife depend on clean streams in order to thrive. Pennsylvania stream systems are abundant with fishes and other wildlife that rely on streams for habitat and life.

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