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Erosion control structures on Great Lakes Permanent or temporary erosion control structures

Placing permanent erosion control structures

Material type and shape

The type of material used can impact the longevity of a shore protection structure. Demolition debris like cinder blocks, concrete rubble and dirt are not acceptable materials since when they exposed to wave action and thaw and freeze cycles can crack and break apart easily. Any armor layer must be sufficiently sized to be stable and made of materials that will not crack and fragment.

The shape of the materials is also an important design consideration. Multi-faceted boulders with round surfaces can work well. Conversely, flat surfaces do not work well. Flat surfaces can reflect wave energy resulting in scouring at the base of the structure or could increase wave run-up and cause more erosion.

Assistance with installation

The cost of planning, designing, and installing shore protection structures may become expensive. To help ensure that the landowner investment in a solution is protected, the department encourages landowners to seek experienced coastal engineering professionals to assist with your project. Coastal engineering professionals have the expertise necessary to influence the success of a shoreline project, including:

  • navigating the permit process,
  • assessing the impacts of the planned project on adjacent properties,
  • minimizing construction and maintenance costs, and
  • managing the performance and longevity of the project.

Monitoring after installation

Coastal professionals can monitor the project following completion and plan any modifications or repairs needed in the event of a storm. An investment in the services of experienced professionals is the best way to ensure the long-term success of a shore protection project and minimize costs during the period of ownership.

Determine permit required

This is a text link version of our lake shore erosion control for projects located on the Great Lakes interactive question and answer module. If you are seeing this message, you currently have JavaScript disabled or are in compatibility mode while using Internet Explorer. This text version is here to help you understand if you need a permit from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for your dredging project, and if so, which one. Please go through and answer each question. This will help you determine which permit you will need.

Question 1 :

Is your project located on Lake Superior or Lake Michigan including Green Bay?

If your answer is "Yes,” go to Question 2.

You've answered No.

If your answer is “No,”:

For information regarding the placement of shoreline erosion control structures on inland waters visit the lake shore erosion page.

Question 2 :

Are you placing a permanent erosion control structure or temporary emergency materials?

If your answer is "Permanent erosion control structures,” go to Question 3.

You've answered Temporary emergency materials.

If your answer is “Temporary emergency materials,”:

For placement of temporary emergency materials, a landowner must submit request in writing to the department that describes:

  • WHERE the temporary material will be PLACED
  • The TYPE and AMOUNT of temporary MATERIALS that will be used
  • HOW the temporary material will be PLACED

For more details about these requests, please visit the Temporary Emergency Erosion Control Structures factsheet [PDF]. Please be aware that one of the requirements in the temporary emergency erosion control approval letter will be that the landowner will actively work toward planning, designing, and implementing a permanent shoreline protection solution, through the state Chapter 30 permit process.

Temporary emergency material: Temporary substances placed to secure failing structures or prevent massive loss of shoreline caused by an extreme natural event such as excessive rainfall or flooding.

Question 3 :

The permanent erosion control structure I am interested in placing is:


  • Revetment (Riprap) [PDF exit DNR]: Layers of large armor stone including filter fabric and stone filter layer material placed on the bed and bank at a slope to prevent toe erosion.
  • Biological shore erosion control (bio-stabilization) [PDF]: any structure that is made up of biological materials that is constructed to increase sediment stability or reducing the erosion potential from wave action. Biological materials are living or organic materials that are biodegradable like native grasses, trees, live stakes and posts, non-treated wood, mats, fiber rolls, etc.
  • Seawall [PDF]: an upright structure that is steeper than 1.5:1 slope and is installed parallel to shore to prevent sliding of the land and to protect adjacent land from waves. These structures are commonly constructed of timber, rock concrete, metal sheet piling and may even have biological components.
  • Groin [PDF exit DNR]: Shore-perpendicular structures that are connected to land and extend into the lake to interrupt or slow the movement of sediment along the shore.
  • Offshore breakwater [PDF exit DNR]: Concrete block or rock structures designed to reduce wave action intensity by creating a calm environment on the landward side of the structure.

If your answer is "Revetment (Riprap),” go to Question 4.

If your answer is "Biological shore erosion control,” go to Question 7.

If your answer is "Seawall,” go to Question 7.

If your answer is "Groin,” go to Question 7.

If your answer is "Offshore breakwater,” go to Question 7.

Question 4 :

Do you have an existing revetment (riprap) in place?

If your answer is "Yes,” go to Question 5.

If your answer is “No,”:

You've answered No:

For placement of new shoreline erosion control structures on the Great Lakes, please apply for an individual permit. To apply for an individual permit, please visit the individual permits page.

*Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one prior to proceeding.

Please review the permit application checklist [PDF] prior to applying for a permit to ensure that all application requirements are included in the permit application.

If your answer is “I don't know,”:

You've answered I don't know:

Take a close look at your shoreline. If you have revetment (riprap), you will have multiple layers of rock (including filter material) placed on the bed or bank to prevent erosion, scour etc. If it looks like you have revetment (riprap) please go back to Question 4 and choose "Yes". If it looks like there was no attempt to control erosion on the shoreline, please go back to Question 4 and choose "No".

Question 5 :

Is the project located in an area of the Great Lakes designated as an Area of Special Natural Resource Interest (ASNRI)?

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You've answered Yes:

For repair/replacement of a shoreline erosion control structure in an Area of Special Natural Resource Interest (ASNRI), please apply for an individual permit. To apply for an individual permit, please visit the individual permits page.

*Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one prior to proceeding.

Please review the permit application checklist [PDF] prior to applying for a permit to ensure that all application requirements are included in the permit application.

If your answer is "No,” go to Question 6.

If your answer is “I don't know,”:

You've answered I don't know:

Please use the designated waters tutorial to determine if your project is located in an Area of Special Natural Resource Interest (ASNRI). If it looks like the project area is within an ASNRI, please go back to Question 5 and choose "Yes". If the project area is NOT within an ASNRI, please go back to Question 5 and choose "No".

Question 6 :

Based on your previous answer, you are not in an ASNRI portion of the Great Lakes. Are you repairing or replacing the existing revetment (riprap)?

If your answer is “Repairing existing revetment (riprap),”:

You've answered Repairing existing revetment (riprap):

Repairing - You may be exempt from permitting requirements. You can repair up to 300 linear feet of existing revetment (riprap) without a permit. Please review the riprap repair exemption checklist [PDF] to identify best management practices to follow before, during, and after construction. Please apply for an individual permit if you need to repair more than the amounts listed or do not meet the exemption for some reason. To apply for an individual permit, please visit the individual permits page.

*Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one prior to proceeding.

Please review the permit application checklist [PDF] prior to applying for a permit to ensure that all application requirements are included in the permit application.

If your answer is “Replacing existing revetment (riprap),”:

You've answered Replacing existing revetment (riprap):

Replacing - You may be exempt from permitting requirements. You can replace up to 100 linear feet of existing revetment (riprap) without a permit. Please review the riprap replace exemption checklist [PDF] to identify best management practices to follow before, during, and after construction. To apply for an individual permit, please visit the individual permits page.

*Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one prior to proceeding.

Please review the permit application checklist [PDF] prior to applying for a permit to ensure that all application requirements are included in the permit application.

If your answer is “Other,”:

You've answered Other:

Other - If your project cannot meet the specifications for repairing or replacing existing revetment (riprap), please apply for an individual permit. To apply for an individual permit, please visit the individual permits page.

*Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one prior to proceeding.

Please review the permit application checklist [PDF] prior to applying for a permit to ensure that all application requirements are included in the permit application.

Question 7 :

Are you looking to maintain a previously permitted, existing structure?

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You've answered Yes:

If you would like to repair an existing structure, please review your existing permit to verify that the permit conditions allow you to repair the current structure without notifying the department. If you wish to perform an activity outside of the permit or you would like to replace the existing structure, please apply for individual permit. To apply for an individual permit, please visit the individual permits page.

*Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one prior to proceeding.

Please review the permit application checklist [PDF] prior to applying for a permit to ensure that all application requirements are included in the permit application.

If your answer is “No, I am looking to change the existing structure,”:

You've answered No, I am looking to change the existing structure:

Please apply for an individual permit. To apply for an individual permit, please visit the individual permits page.

*Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one prior to proceeding.

Please review the permit application checklist [PDF] prior to applying for a permit to ensure that all application requirements are included in the permit application.

If your answer is “No, the structure was not previously permitted,”:

You've answered No, the structure was not previously permitted:

Please apply for an individual permit if the structure was not previously permitted. To apply for an individual permit, please visit the individual permits page.

*Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one prior to proceeding.

Please review the permit application checklist [PDF] prior to applying for a permit to ensure that all application requirements are included in the permit application.

If your answer is “I don’t know,”:

You've answered I don’t know:

Please apply for an individual permit if you are unsure if the structure was previously permitted or you are unsure if your changes would fall under the “maintenance” activities approved in your current permit. To apply for an individual permit, please visit the individual permits page.

*Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one prior to proceeding.

Please review the permit application checklist [PDF] prior to applying for a permit to ensure that all application requirements are included in the permit application.

How to apply

The department has available a permit application checklist [PDF] for great lakes shoreline projects to assist you and the professional you choose in planning and designing your project so that the Department can more quickly review projects without needing to go back and forth during the review process.

Submit permit application

Use the Water ePermitting System to submit your application for permanent structures.

Note

Concrete rubble and other construction site debris should not be used.

These types of materials have a tendency to crack and break apart reducing the weight of the material that is needed to resist wave forces and may create voids for the waves to erode behind the material.

Placing temporary emergency materials

DNR authorization for material placed in Great Lakes

State law requires any material that is placed in the Great Lakes be authorized by the department. In recent cases landowners have requested the department to allow temporary emergency material to be put into place while they design and seek approval for a permanent solution.

The department will allow the placement of temporary emergency material in public water without a permit as long as the following guidelines are followed by the landowner:

  1. The landowner must request in writing to the Department to place temporary emergency materials to control erosion on a great lakes waterbody to protect a structure or infrastructure.
  2. In the request, the landowner must provide the following information.
    • Where the temporary material will be placed;
    • The type and amount of temporary materials that will be used; and,
    • how the temporary material will be placed.

Once the Department receives the request, a letter authorizing the placement of temporary emergency structures will be sent to the landowner and once received the landowner can proceed with placing the temporary measures.

Allowed materials

  • If using rock, stone, or heavy concrete it should consist of clean (no re-bar, metal etc.) large, non-flat, angular, interlocking pieces.
  • If using sandbags, it should consist of clean fill and the bag material of appropriate tensile strength to prevent bursting.

Request submission

Requests for placing temporary emergency material should be directed to:

Last revised: Friday September 29 2017