how Wisconsin protects waterways by holding them in trust for everyone to enjoy.
the permits you need for your waterfront property projects.
about the permit process that protects public waters.
Waterway and wetland information line
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Waterway protection Dredging

If your project involves removal of any material from lake or streambed (muck, sand, gravel, silt, organic material, etc.) a permit may be needed.



Exemptions and permits

  • Exemptions for this and other activities.
  • Water Permits - choose the "Waterway and wetland" tab and then find activity "Dredging."

Dreding, removal, grooming, etc. of lake and streambed

If you are removing a total of less than 2 cubic yards. Of bed material (about one small dump truck full) in any given year you do not need a permit. So maintaining your pier or boat lift, raking your beach, etc. can be done without a permit if you stay under these yearly limits.

Other special dredging activites that may not require permits include

  • Removing a TOTAL of 3 cubic yards of bottom material by hand (manual dredging). This means you can use hand held tools that use no auxillary power to assist you.

Note: Manual removal WILL require a permit in designated Waterways. Please use our Designated Waters tutorial to determine your waterbody designation.

  • Removing bottom material from a farm drainage ditch.

Note: A farm drainage ditch MUST have been non-navigable before it was first ditched (no stream history).

Please review the Manual Dredging Checklist at exemptions to determine if your project meets the standards to be exempt from permitting requirements.

If your project is located in a Designated Water, and does not meet the standards to be exempt from permitting, we have many general permits available for projects in Designated Waters. Please visit Water Permits and choose a general permit that most closely fits your project.

Large projects

If a general permit is not available for your project, please visit Water Permits for individual permits.

Beach grooming or mowing vegetation

Any motor vehicle driven on a lake bed to groom beaches requires an individual permit. This means permits are needed for beach grooming larger areas. In some cases these areas could be public beaches. Please visit Water Permits to apply for an individual permit.

Permits may also be needed to drive motorized equipment on beaches to manage for invasive plants growing on exposed lake bed. Please visit Beach Maintenance for additional information on managing invasive plants, or visit Water Permits to apply for permits to drive motorized equipment on beaches.

Removal of nuisance deposits

If removal of washed up debris and accumulated plant and animal deposits will cover a large area too time consuming and challenging to do by hand, a general permit is available to use motorized equipment to remove certain types of nuisance deposits. Visit Water Permits to apply online. Please visit Beach Maintenance for additional information.


Applicable statutes and codes include Section 30.20, Wis. Stats. [exit DNR] and Chapter NR 345 [exit DNR].

Local permits and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulations may also apply. We advise you to contact your local zoning office and your regional U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office [exit DNR].

Last revised: Thursday October 31 2013