US Army Corps of Engineers
Baltimore District

How to apply for a permit in Pennsylvania

For work in Pennsylvania, use the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Joint ApplicationYou may also write or call the office below for an application. It is important that you provide complete information in the application, as requested.

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Bureau of Dams, Waterways and Wetlands
Rachel Carson State Office Building
Market Street
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17105
(717) 787-6827

The Process: After the state or Corps office receives the application, it will be assigned an identification number. Then within 15 days of receipt of all the required information, a determination will be made regarding the type of permit required. Depending on the type of permit process, a public notice will be issued with a 15-day to 30-day comment period, if necessary. The proposal is reviewed by the Corps, general public, special interest groups, and state, local and other related federal agencies. After the comment period, the Corps reviews all comments, and may consult other federal agencies. The Corps may ask you for additional information and conduct a public hearing, if needed. For individual permits, when all considerations are satisfied, the District Engineer makes a decision to either issue or deny the permit application. You will than receive a permit or written explanation of the reason for denial. For State Programmatic General Permits, this federal permit is usually issued along with the State's authorization.

To view the USACE regulatory process flow chart, please click here.

Permits Types and Processes

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District authorizes work in waters of the United States under four types of permits: State Programmatic General Permits, Nationwide Permits, Letters of Permission, and Individual Permits.


Regional General Permits
In the Baltimore District, we use two types of Regional General Permits: State Programmatic General Permits (PA & MD only) or Nationwide Permits that are reserved for only the most minor impacts to waters of the United States regulated by the Corps. For projects with the potential for substantial environmental impacts, we use either Letters of Permission or Individual Permits.

The level of review increases substantially from Regional General Permit review to Individual Permit Review. Within the Baltimore District, project managers will try to work with applicants to make sure that any impacts to waters or wetlands are avoided to the most practicable extent to best preserve our aquatic resources and to help enable applicants to qualify for the most expeditious review.

State Programmatic General Permits

Pennsylvania State Programmatic General Permit-5 (PASPGP-5)

PASPGP-5 (click to access full permit) authorizes work in waters of the United States within portions of the state of Pennsylvania for activities that would cause no more than minimal adverse environmental effects, individually and cumulatively, subject to the permit’s specific terms and conditions. This programmatic general permit operates in conjunction with Pennsylvania’s Department of the Environment’s (PADEP) state regulatory program that protects the aquatic environment in a manner equivalent to the Department of the Army regulatory program. PASPGP-5 became effective July 1, 2016, was revised in July 2018, and will expire June 30, 2021.

View the May 2, 2016 public notice regarding the issuance of PASPGP-5. View the July 30, 2018 public notice regarding the modification of PASPGP-5.  

Some of the modifications from PASPGP-4 to PASPGP-5 include:

1) The portion of the Delaware River that is ineligible for permit issuance has been extended beyond the limits identified in the last version of the permit;

2) The impact thresholds include no greater than one acre of impact to aquatic resources (total wetland and waterway); and no more than 1,000 linear feet of stream loss;

3) Projects that require Corps review for permit issuance have been redefined for linear projects. The reporting thresholds apply to single and complete projects, rather than the impacts associated with the overall project. Review is required if the single and complete project:

> 0.50 acre of direct/indirect, temporary/permanent impact to waters or wetlands;

> 0.10 acre of permanent conversion of forested or scrub shrub wetland; or

> 250 linear feet of permanent stream impact.

4) Exceptions to the 250 linear feet threshold includes up to 500 linear feet for activities involving bank stabilization and/or stream rehabilitation, protection and enhancement. There is no linear threshold for activities verified under PADEP’s General Permit-1 for Fish and Habitat Enhancement Structures or projects approved by the Environmental Review Committee;

5) Additional criteria for Corps review includes single and complete utility line crossings of water and/or wetlands that exceed 500 linear feet (except overhead lines); and utility lines placed within a jurisdictional area in which the line runs parallel to or along a stream;

6) Any activity authorized as a Waiver 2, which includes water obstructions in a stream or floodway with a drainage area of 100 acres or less, no longer automatically requires Corps review. For projects involving greater than 250 linear feet of permanent impact to streams and/or rivers, an application must be submitted to the Corps. This waiver does not apply to wetlands within the floodway. The PASPGP-5 reporting threshold applies;

<250 feet permanent impact: Corps review not necessary

>250 feet permanent impact: Corps review necessary

7) If the impacts of a single and complete project and compensatory mitigation for that project exceed the PASPGP-5 eligibility thresholds, the impacts associated with the compensatory mitigation may be authorized through a Nationwide Permit 27;

8) Conditions regarding essential fish habitat and Atlantic and Shortnose Sturgeon have been added;

9) All projects that result in temporary impacts require monitoring of aquatic resources to ensure restoration. A form for monitoring has been developed for consistency. All temporary impacts that exceed one year require Corps review.  

Nationwide Permits

Nationwide Permits (NWPs) are general permits issued on a nationwide basis to authorize minor activities with minimal evaluation time. NWPs have been established to reduce the regulatory reporting burden for specific activities that have no more than minimal impacts to the aquatic environment.

Please NOTE, most NWPs have been suspended in Maryland and Pennsylvania since there are State Programmatic General Permits already in place. On March 20, 2017, the Baltimore District issued a Special Public Notice #17-14 announcing the final regional conditions for the 2017 Nationwide Permits in the State of Maryland, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania within the Baltimore and Philadelphia District’s regulatory geographic boundaries, the District of Columbia, and certain military installations of northern Virginia (i.e., Fort Belvoir, Fort Myer, and the Pentagon).  

Letter of Permission

A Letter of Permission (LOP), as described in 33 CFR 325.2(e)(1), is a type of standard permit issued through an abbreviated processing procedure that includes coordination with federal and state resource agencies and a public interest evaluation, but without the publishing of an individual public notice. LOP will not be used to authorize the transportation of dredged material for the purpose of placing it in ocean waters. 

For projects subject to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, LOPs may be used when the District Engineer has concluded that the proposed work would be: 1) minor; 2) would not have significant individual or cumulative impacts on environmental values; and 3) should encounter no appreciable opposition. 

For projects subject to section 404 of the Clean Water Act, LOPs may be used after the District Engineer: 1) consults with federal and state fish and wildlife agencies, the Regional Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency, the state water quality certifying agency and, if appropriate, the state Coastal Zone Management Agency, to develop a list of categories of activities proposed for authorization under LOP procedures; 2) issues a public notice advertising the proposed list and LOP procedures, requesting comments and offering an opportunity for public hearing; and 3) the 401 certification has been issued or waived and, if appropriate, CZM consistency concurrence obtained or presumed either on a generic or individual basis.

Individual Permits

Individual permits (IPs - also known as a standard permits - SPs) are generally reserved for projects with potential for substantial environmental impacts. An IP requires a full public interest review, including public notices and coordination with involved agencies, interested parties and the general public.

View the Step-by-Step Application Review Process.

 Appeals

The Corps of Engineers has an administrative appeal process whereby applicants and landowners may appeal denied permits, issued permits that contain requirements that are unacceptable to the applicant, or approved jurisdictional determinations. Although these decisions are made by Corps District offices, requests for appeals of such decisions are appealed to the Corps Division offices. Requests for appeal must be furnished to the Division office within 60 days of the date of the appealable decision. A site visit or an appeal conference or meeting may be conducted during the appeal process. A decision on the merits of the appeal based on the administrative record is normally made in 90 days. The Division will either uphold the District decision or send the case back to the District, with direction to make a new decision.

Procedures for appealing Corps permitting decisions are found at 33 CFR Part 331.