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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

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Guidelines for Stream Cleaning
NJ Department of Environmental Protection
Division of Land Use Regulation
Revised September 30, 2014

(PDF Version)

Certain “cleaning” or maintenance activities conducted in New Jersey’s streams and rivers require permits pursuant to the Freshwater Wetland Protection Act Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:7A) and the Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:13).  However, in some instances, minor cleaning activities can be conducted without the need to obtain either permit.  Furthermore, some cleaning activities qualify for General Permits and others require Individual Permits.  Each activity is described below:

  1. Activities such as hand removal and de-snagging of tree limbs and other debris (that are obstructing flow) may be conducted with neither a Flood Hazard Area Permit nor a Freshwater Wetland Permit.
  1. Activities authorized by a Flood Hazard Area Permit-by-Rule (See N.J.A.C. 7:13-7.2(a)5 and N.J.A.C. 7:13-7.2(d)3) that do not require a Freshwater Wetland Permit (provided that Freshwater Wetlands and/or Transition Area are not disturbed for access) include the following:
  1. The use of machinery to remove a major obstruction from a regulated water that cannot be removed by hand, such as a fallen tree, abandoned vehicle, furniture and other large debris provided:
    1. The timing restrictions set forth at N.J.A.C. 7:13-10.5(d) are observed;
    2. No live trees are disturbed in the riparian zone of the regulated water to provide access to the channel or obstruction;
    3. Machinery is situated outside of the regulated water where possible;
    4. No fill or accumulated sediment is removed from the regulated water;
  1. Removal of accumulated sediment or debris adjacent to bridges, culverts and stormwater outfalls along a public roadway or on public property, provided:
    1. Heavy machinery is not used and all work is performed “by hand.”  No backhoes or other heavy machinery can be used in the regulated water;
    2. No trees are removed in the riparian zone;
    3. Vegetation outside the regulated water is not disturbed;
    4. Sediment and debris removal is limited to within 100 feet from the structure and is necessary to maintain positive flow through the structure;
    5. Excavation consists solely of accumulated sediment and does not alter the natural bed and banks of the channel;
    6. The material removed is disposed of outside any regulated area and in accordance with all Federal, State and local laws;
    7. All work is performed under the supervision of the public entity that is responsible for maintaining the roadway or public property;
    8. The timing restrictions set forth at N.J.A.C. 7:13-10.5(d) are observed;
  1. Activities conducted by a public entity may qualify for a Flood Hazard Area General Permit 1 (N.J.A.C. 7:13-8.3) or a Freshwater Wetland Permit General Permit 26 (N.J.A.C 7:7A-5.26) if the project consists of the following:
    1. The removal of accumulated silt, sediment, debris or garbage from a channel with a natural bed, provided:
      1. The channel bed is no more than 15 feet in average width;
      2. The work is limited to a channel reach of no more than 500 feet in length;
    2. The removal of any accumulated material from a channel previously lined with concrete or similar material.  This activity has no limits on channel width or length.

The removal of accumulated sediment and silt from a water body does not require a Freshwater Wetland Permit, unless freshwater wetlands or transition areas are disturbed for access to the water.  However, if sediment has accumulated to the point such that vegetation is growing in it, the area may have become freshwater wetlands and a Freshwater Wetlands Permit may be required.  If a FWW GP26 is obtained, then the FHA GP1 is not required.  Please contact the Division for additional guidance as needed.

All other stream cleaning activities will require an individual permit under the Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules at 7:13-9.1.  If any activities not discussed above will be conducted in wetlands or wetland transition areas an individual permit may be required under the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules at 7:7A-7.1.  For more information please consult the rules to read the above citations in their entirety.  If you have any questions, you may also contact the Division of Land Use Regulation Technical Support Center at (609) 777-0454.


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