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

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Stormwater Basins

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

Stormwater Basins can be found along side of most new commercial and residential development sites of sufficient scale to trigger stormwater regulations. Their purpose is to gather the stormwater runnoff from areas of impervious surface, like rooftops and parking lots, and collect it into one or more basins which can then slowly release the water over time. It is intended to help prevent flooding, especially flash flooding, along the waterways of NJ.

Activities, including the construction of stormwater basins, which may disturb special areas of the State that are regulated by the Department, may require an approval from the Division prior to construction. An area containing sensitive and endangered plant species for example, may be irreparably damaged by such activities. It is important therefore to closely examine a proposed project relative to the sensitive areas which may be impacted.

Stormwater Basins may require multiple approvals from the Division, depending on the special areas impacted by the project. If you don't know what special areas are on your site, 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.

For information on Land Use permit requirements for Stormwater Basins within specific "special areas", please click on each of the tabs above.*

*For impacts to Streams, Rivers, Lakes, Ponds, Flood Plains, Flood Way, Riparian Zones and other water body related areas, please click on the "Flood Hazard" tab. For impacts to special coastal areas, please click on the "Coastal" tab. For impacts to Freshwater Wetlands, click on the "Freshwater Wetlands" tab. Information on Tidelands can be found in the "Tidelands" tab.

Constructing a new Basin

There are no Freshwater Wetlands General Permits for the construction of a stormwater basin (basin) within freshwater wetlands and/or State open waters. If the basin will be located in transition areas only, the project may be eligible for a “Transition Area Special Activity Waiver” (SAW) for “Stormwater Management”. In order to qualify, the applicant would have to demonstrate that there is no other feasible location or configuration for the basin that would minimize impacts to the transition area. In the alternative, the basin could be constructed within a transition area through the use of a “Transition Area Averaging Plan”.

If the basin will disturb freshwater wetlands or State open waters, or it cannot comply with the SAW requirements, a Freshwater Wetlands Individual Permit (IP) would be required. An IP application would need to include a description as to why the basin cannot be constructed outside of regulated areas.

Maintaining a Previously Constructed Basin

Before determining if a permit is necessary from the Division for maintenance, it is important to determine if the area within the basin would be considered regulated wetlands. Basins previously constructed in wetlands or on streams would likely be regulated under the FWPA. Those basins constructed within uplands where hydrophytic vegetation has developed (either intentionally or unintentionally) within the basin, may or may not be considered regulated. This determination would be dependent on other parameters such as the presence of hydric soils within the basin. 

If an area within a basin is considered regulated under the FWPA, an applicant can clean or maintain the basin after obtaining a Freshwater Wetlands General Permit 1 (GP1) – “Maintenance and repair of existing features”. This allows for the maintenance within the basin as long as the activities don’t expand, widen, or deepen the basin beyond the original design depth. The permit is active for 5 years with an optional extension for 5 more years. This allows for up to 10 years of basin maintenance under a single permit.

When submitting for a GP1 for stormwater basin maintenance, the Department has 30 days from the day it is determined to be administratively complete in which to issue a decision as to whether the activities are not authorized under a GP1, or that it may be authorized but will require a full application review. If the applicant does not receive a notification of either decision than the application is automatically approved. Please see the appropriate section of the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules, 7:7A-5.1 for more information.

The construction of a detention basin in 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 Permit by Rule (PBR).  Potential qualifying PBRs include those found in N.J.A.C. 7:13-7.2(a)2 or N.J.A.C. 7:13-7.2(b)6. Please refer to the rules to see the all of the applicable conditions where each PBR would apply. Please note that in order to qualify for a PBR, the project can not be a Major Development, as defined at N.J.A.C. 7:8-1.2.  Some special notes about these PBRs are listed as follows.

N.J.A.C. 7:13-7.2(a)2 – In order to qualify for this PBR, the entire area of proposed disturbance must be located outside of the flood hazard area.  In addition, with this PBR, the Department’s Division of Coastal and Land Use Compliance and Enforcement must be notified of construction at least 2 weeks prior to the start of any construction.

N.J.A.C. 7:13-7.2(b)6 – In order to qualify for this PBR, please note that the controlling flood hazard area must be tidal, as opposed to fluvial. 

There are no Flood Hazard General Permits available to permit Detention Basins. Therefore should the project not qualify for any listed PBRs, then the applicant would have to obtain a formal written approval under a Flood Hazard Area Verification and Individual Permit. The technical standards are described in Subchapters 9, 10 and 11 of the Rules. 

A stormwater basin is a structure used to detain and treat stormwater runoff.  Such basins are generally proposed as part of a larger commercial or residential project which has triggered compliance with the Stormwater Management Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:8). Stormwater basins are typically reviewed within the context of a larger project under an Individual permit. There are no coastal exemptions, permits-by-rule, or general permits for the construction of a stormwater basin in the coastal zone. 

Please refer to the “Jurisdiction” section of the "Coastal Permitting" section of the website to 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.

If the project does not comply with the requirements for a coastal exemption, a permit-by-rule or a general permit, the project will generally require a Waterfront Development, CAFRA, and /or Coastal Wetlands Individual Permit.  In order to qualify for a CAFRA or Waterfront Development Individual permit or a Coastal Wetlands permit, the proposed stormwater basin construction must comply with all applicable regulations found in 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.).  Please be advised, the construction of stormwater basins is prohibited in intermittent stream corridors pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:7E-3.32 of the Coastal Zone Management Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:7E-1.1 et seq.).  Additional information regarding the 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.  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.

Detention basins that are proposed 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 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, please see the tidelands section of this website.

For information and instruction 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 "Before you Build, Before you Buy" webpage.


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Last Updated: April 28, 2015