Watershed Management Permits
Activities that affect lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, and wetlands may require one or more permits from the Agency of Natural Resources and other agencies. The Watershed Management Division administers several such permit programs, and works cooperatively with other permitting agencies. This page provides an overview.
To view permits recently issued by the Watershed Management Division and related notices, click here to view our public notices.
To assist permit applicants, and potential permit applicants, Agency permit specialists staff the regional offices. The Agency also publishes a Permit Handbook that contains detailed information about all state permits and many permits issued by other state and federal agencies. Information on how to contact a permit specialist, an on-line version of the Permit Handbook, and other general permit information are available by visiting our Environmental Assistance Office Permit Specialist pages.
Activities in Wetlands - The State of Vermont protects wetlands which provide significant functions and values and also protects a buffer zone directly adjacent to significant wetlands (50 feet for Class II). Wetlands in Vermont are classified as Class I, II, or III based off of the functions and values which they provide. Class I and Class II wetlands are protected by the Vermont Wetland Rules. Any activity within a Class I or II wetland or buffer zone which is not exempt or considered an "allowed use" under the Vermont Wetland Rules requires a permit.
Under Section 401(a)(1) of the Clean Water Act (33 USC § 1341), states have the authority to review and approve, condition, waive, or deny water quality certification for any activity that is subject to a Federal permit or license and may result in a discharge to waters of the United States. In Vermont, Section 401 Water Quality Certification applications are reviewed to determine if the activity will comply with the Vermont Water Quality Standards and any other requirements of state law. A federal license or permit may not be granted if certification has been denied.
The Stormwater Management Program implements permit programs that cover construction activities, new and redeveloped impervious surfaces, industrial sites, municipal stormwater, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO), and the remediation of impaired waters. Program staff are available to provide regulatory and technical assistance to ensure proper design and operation of stormwater treatment and control practices.
Development exempt from municipal regulation within Flood Hazard Areas and River Corridors will likely require a Flood Hazard Area & River Corridor Permit. Development exempt from municipal regulation includes state-owned and operated institutions and facilities; accepted agricultural and silvicultural practices; and, power generation, transmission, and telecommunication facilities seeking a Certificate of Public Good from the Public Service Board (30 V.S.A. §§ 248 and 248a). Please contact a regional floodplain manager regarding proposals in Flood Hazard Areas and River Corridors.
- Visit the River Corridor and Floodplain Protection State Permits webpage for additional information.
Changing the course, current, or cross-section of any perennial stream by the removal or placement of 10 or more cubic yards of material or constructing a berm in a river corridor or flood hazard area will require a stream alteration permit or an authorization under the State Stream Alteration General Permit. Municipal emergency instream protective measures to address imminent threats to public safety after a flood must also be authorized under the general permit and adhere to the provisions of the Stream Alteration Rule. Please contact a River Management Engineer regarding a stream alteration, berm, or instream emergency measure.
The 2014 Shoreland Protection Act established state regulations for shoreland development within 250 feet of a lake’s mean water level. Visit the Shoreland Permit Program for additional information. Any project that encroaches beyond the mean water level of a lake or pond that is a public body of water may require a Lake Encroachment Permit. With a few exceptions, aquatic nuisance control activities require permitting.
Water diversions and withdrawals for power generation and water supplies require a 401 certification water quality certification. For water withdrawals (except those for snowmaking), the Agency has adopted a procedure that defines the standards and process used by the Agency during its 401 certification review of project proposals. The procedure defines how the Agency will determine the minimum streamflow that is necessary to meet Vermont Water Quality Standards. For snowmaking water withdrawals, the Agency has developed rules as directed by 10 V.S.A. §§ 1031-1032. The rules serve the same purpose as the Agency procedure, but apply specifically to snowmaking projects.
Water withdrawals in both streams and lakes usually require one or more permits. Act 250, Stream Alteration (in rivers), or Shoreland Encroachment (in lakes and reservoirs) permits may be needed, as well as a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. As with other projects requiring a federal permit, a Section 401 Water Quality Certification from the Agency will be required before the permit is issued. For most types of water withdrawals (except those for snowmaking), the Agency has adopted a procedure that defines the standards and process used by the Agency during its review of project proposals. The procedure defines how the Agency will determine the minimum streamflow that is necessary to meet Vermont Water Quality Standards. For snowmaking water withdrawals, the Agency has developed rules as directed by 10 V.S.A. §§ 1031-1032. The rules serve the same purpose as the Agency procedure, but apply specifically to snowmaking projects.
An Aquatic Nuisance Control Permit is required to control nuisance aquatic plants, insects or other aquatic life in Vermont's waterways. The use of chemical herbicides, bottom barrier materials or powered mechanical devices may also require a Vermont Wetland Permit.
BEWARE: Wetlands and 401 Water Quality Certifications may also require a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit.
The Corps of Engineers coordinates with the Agency of Natural Resources, but the two programs have different rules, regulations, and procedures.
Additional Resources related to the Corps of Engineers Permits
- The complete text of the Federal Clean Water Act provides the legal basis for the federal permit programs.
- Department of the Army General Permit State of Vermont.