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?
- A dam permit is required if the proposed dam will be built across a stream and it meets one of the following criteria:
- 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.
- 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.
- The impounding capacity (storage volume) at maximum storage elevation is greater than 50 acre-feet.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
PDF – Guidance on Pond Planning and Construction from United States Dept. of Agriculture LINK – Information on small backyard ponds