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How to Apply for a Protection of Waters Permit in Region 5

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Important Change in Process: Your completed application must now be submitted directly to each involved Agency. DEC will no longer forward applications to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or vice versa. This change in procedure will ensure that each involved agency receives applications in a timely manner and that reviews can begin without delays due to the interchange of application materials among agencies.

Project Planning - What to Consider First

Work Prohibition Period for Trout

Many water bodies are breeding habitats to fall-spawning trout. Please be aware that Protection of Waters permits typically contain a condition prohibiting in-water work during the vulnerable spawning, incubation, and early development period for these fish (October 1 - April 30).

Shoreline Stabilization

When shoreline stabilization is necessary, methods that maintain or re-establish natural slope and habitat should be considered first (e.g., planting native, deep-rooting vegetation and bio-engineering that incorporates live stakes, fascines, vegetated rip-rap or terraced stone, etc.). Vertical walls are approved only in extreme situations where environmental alternatives would not be structurally effective.

Basis for Permit Issuance

The proposed project must:

  1. be reasonable and necessary,
  2. not endanger the health, safety, welfare of the people of the state, and
  3. not cause unreasonable, uncontrolled or unnecessary damage to the natural resources of the state, including soil, forests, water, aquatic and land-related environment.

Mean High Water Level

Mean High Water Level (mhwl) is the average springtime high water level. Specific mhwl elevations have been established, and should be used, for the following lakes:

  • Lake Champlain = 99.8' above mean sea level (amsl)
  • Lake Placid = 1,858.94' amsl
  • Lake George = 320.20' amsl
  • Great Sacandaga Lake = 771.0' amsl
  • Indian Lake (Hamilton County) = 1,651.74' amsl
  • Sixth Lake (Town of Inlet) = 1786.10' amsl

For other waterbodies, the mhwl can be determined by observing along the shoreline:

  • vegetative characteristics such as the presence, absence or destruction of terrestrial or aquatic vegetation, and
  • physical characteristics such as a clear natural line impressed on a bank, scouring, shelving, or the presence of sediments or debris.

Completing Your Application

All forms, supplemental materials and details listed in Items 1 through 7 are required. Check with Region 5 environmental permits staff to learn if any forms or applications listed in Item 8 are required. Contact information may be found at the bottom of the page. NOTE: All forms must be completed and mailed to the appropriate office.

1. Joint Application for Permit

Application form (PDF) and Instructions (PDF).

Complete the application form and note the following:

  • Section 2 - 4 Landowner Authorization - The applicant is the legally responsible person (section 2). If the property is owned by someone other than the legally responsible person, section 3 should contain their information as well. If an agent (section 4) prepares the application, the applicant/landowner must also sign section 7, or provide a signed letter authorizing the agent to act on his/her behalf.
  • Section 6 Project Description - Complete using as much detail as possible. Attach separate pages if needed.

2. Location Map

  • Provide two (2) copies
  • Show the exact location of the project site by placing an X or an arrow on a USGS topographic map, DOT planimetric map, or equivalent.

3. General Site Plan

  • Provide two (2) copies
  • Show the overall site
  • Include and label:
    • Property lines, proposed project, existing structures - including structures to be removed
    • Permanent existing landmarks (roads, driveways, structures, shoreline, streams, significant trees, etc.)
    • North arrow and scale (or if not drawn to scale indicate all relevant distances and dimensions)
  • Samples of General Site Plans for various projects

4. Project Plans

  • Provide two (2) copies
  • Include two drawings
    • Plan view ('bird's eye' view)
    • Cross section view
  • Drawings should be on 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheets and show before and after conditions.
  • Drawings should include and label:
    • Existing shoreline conditions: top of bank, bank slope, lake/stream bottom, erosion areas, etc.
    • Location of Mean High Water Level (mhwl) - see definition above.
    • All proposes structures, include:
      • Work areas (excavation, fill, backfill areas, etc.)
      • All dimensions (length, height, width, depth)
    • All materials/structures to be removed, include all work areas and all dimensions.
    • All distances from proposed project to: mhwl, property lines, and nearby existing permanent features such as house, driveway, significant tree, etc.
    • Erosion/sediment controls (e.g., silt fence, straw bales) to be used along the limits of disturbance. For projects on lake/stream shores, a turbidity curtain should surround the work area.
    • North Arrow; Scale 1" = 50' or larger (if drawn to scale)
    • Applicant's Name
    • Date
    • Preparer's Name
  • Samples of Project Plans for various projects

5. Color Photographs

Provide two (2) copies of recent, color photos (2 to 3 views), labeled with view and the date taken.

6. Supplement WQC-1

For more information about Section 401 Water Quality Certifications, please see Water Quality Certifications for Projects Requiring a Federal Permit.

7. Short Environmental Assessment Form (EAF)

The EAF can be found on the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) webpage. Please complete Part 1 of the EAF and submit the completed form along with your application.

Be sure to:

  • Summarize the entire project, not just that portion affecting this permit application.
  • List all other agencies requiring approvals and indicate the current status of those reviews.

8. Additional Forms

Check with Region 5 Environmental Permits staff to see if any forms or applications listed below are required. Contact information may be found at the bottom of the page.

Other Important Information

Time Frames For DEC Decisions

Pursuant to Article 70 of the Environmental Conservation Law

  • Determination of Completeness of Application: on or before 15 calendar days after receipt of application.
  • Final Decision (if no hearing)
    • Minor Projects: on or before 45 calendar days after the 'complete' date
    • Major Projects: on or before 90 calendar days after the 'complete' date

Other Permits May Be Required

Potential involved include, but are limited to:

Adirondack Park Agency (APA) (leaves DEC's website) or (518-891-4050) - If your proposal involves shoreline work in the Adirondack Park, please contact the APA before finalizing plans. This will help to eliminate unnecessary delays and assure that your project design satisfies both agencies.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Upstate Regulatory Field Office (leaves DEC's website) or (518-266-6350) - The USACE regulates activities involving dredging, excavation, placement of fill, or construction of certain structures in waterways and wetlands of the United States.

Lake George Park Commission (LGPC) (leaves DEC's website) (518-668-9347) - regulates docks and moorings on Lake George.

Application Submittals and Further Information

Mail or hand deliver originals to the appropriate DEC Region 5 office.

In Clinton, Essex, Franklin, and Hamilton Counties:

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
Division of Environmental Permits
1115 NYS Route 86
PO Box 296
Ray Brook, NY 12977-0296

In Fulton, Saratoga, Warren, and Washington Counties:

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
Division of Environmental Permits
232 Golf Course Road
Warrensburg, NY 12885-0220


Please contact the DEC Region 5 Division of Environmental Permits office by mail, phone, or email.