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how Wisconsin protects waterways by holding them in trust for everyone to enjoy.
Find
the permits you need for your waterfront property projects.
Learn
about the permit process that protects public waters.
Waterway and wetland information line
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608-267-3125
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Dredging

Dredging

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. Dredging projects can pose a risk to the aquatic environment and permit authorization typically requires input from multiple department programs. It is strongly recommended that you contact your local water management specialist early on as you are developing your project.

Before you begin

  • If a permit is required, applicants are required to have a pre-application meeting with their local water management specialist prior to submitting a formal permit application to determine information submittal needs.
  • Some project requirements are based on specific watereway designations. Please check the department’s designated waters viewer to determine whether your waterway has a specific designation that may influence your project.

Determine permit required

This is a text link version of our dredging 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:

  1. one of the following activities and
  2. can it meet all of the requirements in the permit application checklist or reference?
(a) Activity name (b) Checklist or reference
Removal of material from a farm drainage ditch
farm drainage ditch

A artificial channel which drains water from lands which are used for agricultural purposes which does not have a history of being a navigable stream prior to ditching.

References
Removal of Material from an artificial waterway
artificial waterway

A body of water that does not have a history of being a lake or stream or of being part of a lake or stream (connected to a lake or stream).

References
Removal of material by hand (manual dredging)
manual dredging

Manual dredging is described as the removal or disturbance of bottom material by hand or using a hand-held device without the aid of external or auxiliary power

References
Manual Dredging Checklist
Removal of material to place or maintain a structure in a waterway that does not require Department authorization to be placed
References
The leveling of sand or grooming of soil, or Removal of accumulated debris from the exposed shoreline along the Great Lakes.
accumulated debris

Includes zebra/quagga mussels, cladophora (algae), dead fish, or other dead plant and animal nuisance deposits.

References
The removal of material by the drainage board for the Duck Creek Drainage District

References
Removal of material associated with farm drainage ditch maintenance within an established drainage district, and conducted by the drainage district.
drainage district

Dredging of a district drain that has a history of being a navigable stream prior to ditching and that is identified within a Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection recognized drainage district. Wisconsin Drainage Districts Map Viewer

References

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You've answered Yes:

Your project may qualify for an exemption. It is strongly encouraged that you discuss your project with your local Water Management Specialist prior to beginning your project. Please refer to the exemption checklist or reference information for project eligibility standards that must be followed in order to complete the activity.

If your answer is "No,” go to Question 2.

Question 2 :

Is your project:

  1. one of the following activities and
  2. can it meet all of the requirements in the permit application checklist or reference?
(a) Activity name (b) Checklist or reference
Removal of material from an area which was previously dredged (GP-13)
previously dredged

An area in a navigable waterway that has a history of having been dredged. Verification of prior dredging activities is required, and may include documentation such as previous permits, plans, photos, timeframes, or other means of showing the extent of prior dredging activity

References
Disturbance of lake or stream bed material incidental to invasive or non-native species management
invasive or non-native species management

Operating a motor vehicle on exposed lake bed for the purpose of controlling emergent invasive or non-native plant species.

References
Removal of material associated with the installation of utility crossings
References
Removal of material associated with the jetting of aquatic plants
jetting of aquatic plant

Jetting of aquatic plants consists of the removal of aquatic plants using hydraulic jetting equipment to dislodge aquatic plants from the lake or stream bed.

References
Removal of material associated with farm drainage district maintenance.
farm drainage district maintenance
Dredging of a district drain that has a history of being a navigable stream prior to ditching and that is identified within a Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection recognized drainage district.

drainage district

References
Removal of material to improve navigation in man-made impoundments
man-made impoundments

See section Riparian navigational dredging on man-made impoundments.

Note: groups of individuals on the same waterway may apply together provided each separate individual project within the group meets applicable eligibility requirements.
References
Removal of accumulated plant and animal debris from navigable waterways.
accumulated plant and animal debris

Includes zebra/quagga mussels, cladophora (algae), dead fish, or other dead plant and animal nuisance deposits.

References
Removal of up to 25 cubic yards of material to improve navigation or recreation on a lake, river, or stream.
References
Removal of material by hand (Manual Dredging
Manual Dredging

Manual dredging is described as the removal or disturbance of bottom material by hand or using a hand−held device without the aid of external or auxiliary power.

References

You've answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

Your project may qualify for a general permit. Prior to submitting a permit application you are required to have a pre-application meeting with your local Water Management Specialist. Please refer to the permit application checklist for information that must be provided to your water management specialist.

Apply for a permit

You've answered No.

If your answer is “No,”:

It does not appear that there are any exemptions or general permits available for your project. Because of this, an individual permit is likely required. Please work with your local water management specialist to determine specific permit application needs.

Be aware there may be additional permit standards you must meet. Prior to applying for a permit, review the Permit Application Checklist [PDF] and the Sample Drawings [PDF] as you consider your project’s overall design.

Contaminated sediment sampling

Riparian navigational dredging on man-made impoundments

As of October 2018, DNR has a new general permit for riparians located on man-made impoundments who want to dredge up to 50 cubic yards for up to 5 years. In addition to specific design standards detailed in General Permit 20, projects need to meet two eligibility standards.

Eligible lake list

Eligible waters list with 30% development

  1. First, the project needs to be located on a man-made impoundment with a watershed comprised of more than 30% combined agricultural and urban land use development based upon the department’s latest WiscLand dataset.

    In order to determine whether your impoundment meets this standard, select your county from the drop-down menu in the “Eligible impoundments list” sidebar on this web page. A list of eligible impoundments, and their associated Water Body Identification Code (WBIC), will appear.

  2. Projects also need to be located on a man-made impoundment. Impoundments are defined as a surface water with artificially raised water levels due to the presence of a man-made structure like a dam. In order to demonstrate your project is located on a man-made impoundment, riparians can show they are located on a lake upstream from a dam structure by submitting a screenshot of the Surface Water Data Viewer Dam’s Layer, or documentation from the DNR Water Management Specialist or DNR Water Management Engineer, or other documentation. Applicants will be prompted to submit this documentation when applying for the permit.

    Applicants will also be required to submit a self-certification that the dredging is exempt from consultation from the Waste Materials Management, or get separate approval from Waste Materials Management. Applicants can consult the self-certification exemption criteria flow chart for dredge material disposal facility.

Laws

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].

Sample drawings and other materials

Last revised: Friday March 13 2020