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 in 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 dam permits please read:
Dam Permits in PA
DEP Dredging Info Sheet

 

Draining or dredging your pond:
Occasionally, it becomes necessary to drain a pond. When draining a pond, be aware that a draw-down permit may be required by the PA Fish & Boat Commission.  Please refer to the DEP Dredging Info Sheet link above for a link to an application for a drawdown permit. Please also refer to the Dredging Info Sheet for requirements on pond dredging. Note that any activity expanding the reservoir area or pond depth may require a Water Obstruction and Encroachment Permit.
Water Obstruction and Encroachment Permitting:
If wetland impacts are proposed in the creation of the pond, a water obstruction and encroachment permit will be required. Please contact the PA Department of Environmental Protection if wetlands are proposed to be impacted in the creation of a pond. In addition, if a pond will have an intake structure, a GP-4 may be required for the intake structure. Further information on a GP-4 permit may be found here.
Erosion Control:
A written E&S plan is required to be prepared and submitted for review whenever there is earth disturbance of 5,000 square feet or greater in the creation or dredging of a pond. This approved plan must be on-site during the construction activity. Projects that generate earth disturbances 1 acre or greater are required to obtain a NPDES Permit. Please contact an Urban technician at the Berks County Conservation District prior to proceeding with pond creation/dredging to determine E&S plan requirements.
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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