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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

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Freshwater Wetlands - Application Guidance
Discharge of Return Water
(General Permit 3)

Overview | Application Guidance| Authorization | Applicable Rules | FAQ


General permit 3(GP3) authorizes the discharge of return water from an upland, contained, dredged material disposal area into State open waters, and placement of a pipe above ground for the discharge through freshwater wetlands and/or transition areas. The dredging itself may also require other State and Federal permits.

It is typically used as a companion to another permit, and is usually associated with lake dredging and/or contaminated site cleanup. However, general permit 3 can also be used for other reasons.

Application Guidance

It is usual for this permit to be coupled to another permit for the actual dredging activity, such as general permit 4 for "Hazardous site investigation and cleanup" or general permit 13 for "Lake dredging."

It is important to note that this permit, as with all general permits, must adhere to the Conditions applicable to an authorization pursuant to a general permit-by-certification or a general permit under N.J.A.C. 7:7A-5.73, and N.J.A.C. 7:7A-20.3, Establishing permit conditions.

Under N.J.A.C. 7:7A-20.3 "Establishing permit conditions", specifically N.J.A.C. 7:7A-20.3(b)4, each permit must include information/conditions addressing, "Requirements necessary to comply with any applicable toxic effluent standard or prohibition under section 307(a) of the Federal Act or applicable State or local law. If an applicable toxic effluent standard or prohibition is promulgated or modified after the permit or waiver is issued, the permit or waiver shall be modified as provided in N.J.A.C. 7:7A-20.6."All discharge water must meet these standards.

Getting a GP3 authorization 

If you believe that your project will require a GP3, and you do not know how to apply for one, we suggest that you visit "The Permit Process" section of this website for more information. It will give you a general overview on the ins and outs of permitting, and will direct you to the forms necessary to apply. If you intend to apply for multiple freshwater wetland general permits, be advised that there are strict limits on combining permits, with a 1-acre cap on disturbance for any one project site for most combinations (see N.J.A.C. 7:7A-5.4).

Note: The Department has, for your convenience, developed an Application Checklist for general permit 3. Please follow carefully the requirements as outlined on this checklist to ensure that you have all information necessary to complete and process your application.


The rules cited in our standard approval letter under "Permit Conditions" for this general permit can be found below.

N.J.A.C. 7:7A-7.3 General permit 3 - Discharge of return water

N.J.A.C. 7:7A-5.7 Conditions applicable to an authorization pursuant to a general permit-by-certification or a general permit

N.J.A.C. 7:7A-20.2 Conditions that apply to all permits

N.J.A.C. 7:7A-20.3 Establishing permit conditions

N.J.A.C. 7:7A - Link to the entire rule.

Please Note: The Department has made every effort to ensure that the text of this regulation is identical to the official, legally effective version set forth in the New Jersey Administrative Code. However, should there be any discrepancies between the text on this web site and the official version of the rule, the official version will govern. For more information on obtaining official versions of the rules, see How to Get a Copy of Department Rules.

If you do not see an answer to your question below, please use the Land Use Contact form on this website. We will make every attempt to answer your question as promptly as possible.

Q: Can I discharge return water into a wetland or wetland transition area?

A: No. This permit allows for the placement of a pipe though wetlands and transition areas, but the return water must discharge directly into a State open water.

Q: Is mitigation required?

A: Mitigation is not required under this general permit. However, if combining with a different general permit on the same site, the activities under other general permits may require mitigation.



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Last Updated: April 12, 2022