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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

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Freshwater Wetlands - Application Guidance
Human-Made Ditches or Swales in Headwaters (General Permit 7)

  • Overview
  • Application Guidance
  • Rules
  • FAQ

When a human-made ditch or in freshwater wetlands that are swales in a headwater* is proposed to be disturbed, filled, excavated or drained, a GP 7 is required.

In order to determine whether or not an area of FWW or SOW may be disturbed, detailed information about that wetlands and the site must be obtained, and an inspection of the property by a representative of the Department is required. The Department offers a Letter of Interpretation (LOI), which, depending on the type of LOI, may identify if wetlands are present on a site or not, their classification if they are, or may delineate or verify a map showing where the wetlands may be on a site.

A GP 7 may be combined with other general permits or permits provided the total disturbance of all GP’s do not exceed the one acre threshold for multiple general permits.

"headwater" means a water or wetland that is upstream of the point on a non-tidal stream where the average annual flow is less than five cubic feet per second. *

This page is for informational purposes only. Please see N.J.A.C. 7:7A-5.7 for the precise rules concerning this General Permit.

Limitations for activities under general permit no. 7;
Activities under general permit 7 shall not take place in the following:

  1. A ditch or swale that is, or is located within, an exceptional resource value wetlands, as
    described at N.J.A.C. 7:7A- 2.4; or
  2. A ditch or swale that is, or is located within, a USEPA priority wetland, as defined at
    N.J.A.C. 7:7A-1.4.

Activities under general permit 7 shall not result in either of the following:

  1. The loss or substantial modification of more than one half acre of freshwater wetlands; or
  2. A disruption of a surface water connection, resulting in the isolation of wetlands or State
    open waters which were not isolated at the time of the general permit application.

Getting a GP7: If you believe that your project will require a GP7, 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. Please be advised that any application submitted must follow the procedures and information requirement. If you intend on applying for multiple freshwater wetland general permits, be advised that there are strict limits on what can and cannot be applied for, with a 1 acre cap on wetland disturbance for any one project site.

Note: The Department has, for your convenience, developed an Application Checklist for General Permits. Please follow carefully the requirements as outlined on this checklist to insure that you have all of the required information necessary to complete and process your application.

A direct link to the rules cited in our standard approval letter under "Permit Conditions" for this General Permit can be found below.

7:7A-5.7 General permit 7 - Human-Made Ditches or Swales in Headwaters

7:7A-4.3 Conditions that apply to all general permit authorizations

7:7A-13.1 Standard conditions that apply to all permits

7:7A - Index 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 Register. 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, How To Get a Paper Copy of Department Rules

Frequently Asked Questions

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. When do I need to obtain a Freshwater Wetland General Permit 7?
A. When the proposed activity will disturb freshwater wetlands and /or State open water that are designated as a ditch or swale.

Q. How do I know if the ditch or swale is a freshwater wetland?
A. You may apply for a Letter of Interpretation from the Division, however a definitive decision may not be available to you from the Department until a GP7 has been applied for.

Q. Is mitigation required?
A. No, there is no requirement for mitigation for the filling of a ditch or swale in a headwater area.

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Last Updated: April 12, 2022