Pond Information

Permits for construction of ponds may be required by the Pennsylvania Dam Safety and Encroachments Act.  The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulates ponds and pond construction in a number of ways.

What is a dam?

A dam is any artificial barrier, such as an earthen embankment or concrete structure, built for the purpose of impounding or storing water or another fluid or semi-fluid.

When does a dam need a permit?

  1. A dam permit is required if the proposed dam will be built across a stream and it meets one of the following criteria:
    1. The contributory drainage area is greater than 100 acres. The drainage area is the land area that, during a storm event, contributes water runoff to the impounding area.
    2. The maximum depth of water, measured from the upstream toe of the dam to the top of the dam at maximum storage elevation, is greater than 15 feet.
    3. The impounding capacity (storage volume) at maximum storage elevation is greater than 50 acre-feet.
  2. A dam permit is required if the proposed dam is not located across a stream and criteria 1.B AND 1.C listed above are met.
  3. A dam permit is required if the dam will store a fluid or semi-fluid other than water that may result in pollution or danger to persons or property if it escapes.
For more information about pond permits please read:
Dam Permits in PA
DEP Dredging Info Sheet


Draining your pond:
Occasionally, it becomes necessary to drain a pond. When draining a pond, be aware that a draw-down permit is required by the PA Fish & Boat Commission.  It is also necessary to minimize erosion and sedimentation (E&S) when draining a large volume of water. Questions regarding E&S controls can be directed to the Berks Conservation District.
Other Maintenance:
In most instances, dike repair and dredging do not require permitting, unless the pond itself is a permitted structure or should have been a permitted structure when it was built. Again, it is necessary to control any erosion or sedimentation that might occur from your activities.
Additional Information:
PDF – Guidance on Pond Planning and Construction from United States Dept. of Agriculture
LINK – Information on small backyard ponds

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