New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection


The State permitting process for water-related projects in New Jersey begins at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).  The first step in identifying the State permits required for your project is to go the NJDEP web site, download a Permit Identification Form, and submit the form to the NJDEP Office of Permit Coordination and Environmental Review.  This program was established as a way to help applicants identify relevant permits, coordinate the permitting process, and facilitate communication between applicants and agencies.  It allows applicants to consult one source to identify all permits required for a development.  After the applicant competes a questionnaire, NJDEP assembles a permitting team and arranges a pre-application meeting to guide the applicant through the permitting process.

To find out more information about the Permit Coordination and Environmental Review Program visit the program website at:

If your project is fairly simple, pre-application consultations will be done over the phone.

Contact New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

For regular mail
Department of Environmental Protection
Division of Land Use Regulation
P.O. Box 439
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0439

For courier or hand deliveries
Department of Environmental Protection
Division of Land Use Regulation
501 E. State Street, Second Floor
Trenton, New Jersey 08609

Contact Numbers
Bureau of Tidelands: (609) 292.2573
Freshwater Wetland questions: (609) 777.0454
Waterfront Development , C.A.F.R.A. or Flood Hazard Area questions: (609) 984.0162

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Permitting Process

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) regulates waterfront development through its Division of Land Use Regulation. This division administers six permits that may be required for a waterfront project.  These programs are described in the following sections.

Waterfront Development Permit
Tidal Wetlands Permit
Freshwater Wetlands Permit
Clean Water Act §401 Water Quality Certificates
Tidelands Conveyances
Resource Recovery and Conservation Act
Other Relevant Agencies and Permits

Waterfront Development Permit

The Waterfront Development Law is a very old law, passed in 1914, that seeks to limit problems that new development could cause for existing navigation channels, marinas, moorings, other existing uses, and the environment.

Regulated Activities
If you are proposing any development in a waterway that experiences tidal flow anywhere in New Jersey, you need a Waterfront Development Permit. Examples of projects that need a Waterfront Development Permit include docks, piers, pilings, bulkheads, marinas, bridges, pipelines, cables, and dredging.

For development outside of the CAFRA area, the Waterfront Development Law regulates not only activities in tidal waters, but also the area adjacent to the water, extending from the mean high water line to the first paved public road, railroad or surveyable property line. At a minimum, the zone extends at least 100 feet but no more than 500 feet inland from the tidal water body. Within this zone, NJDEP must review construction, reconstruction, alteration, expansion or enlargement of structures, excavation, and filling. However, this part of the law does not apply within the Hackensack Meadowlands Development District.

Exempted Activities
The Waterfront Development Program exempts the repair, replacement or reconstruction of some legally existing docks, piers, bulkheads and buildings, if the structure existed before 1978 and if other conditions are met.  Also, there are exemptions for certain single family homes and for small (5,000 square feet) additions to certain existing structures, if the single family home or structure is located more than 100 feet inland from the mean high water line.

Application Materials
The list of application material that must be submitting with the application is several pages long.  You can see the full list by downloading a NJDEP PDF with the following link:

Forms and Applications
Forms and applications for Waterfront Development Permits can be found at the Division of Land Use Regulation website:


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Tidal Wetlands Permit

How Do I Tell If My Land Contains Tidal Wetlands?
When land is located near tidal water, there is a good possibility of coastal wetlands on the property. Some signs that may indicate the presence of wetlands are tall reeds and grasses, or ground that is often soggy.

The regulated coastal wetlands are shown on maps prepared by the NJDEP.  Unlike NJDEP's freshwater wetlands maps, the coastal wetlands maps are used to determine jurisdiction.  These maps are available for public inspection at each county clerks office.

Regulated Activities

If your project extends into an area identified as a tidal or coastal wetland NJDEP jurisdictional maps, and includes excavation, dredging, filling or placing a structure you must have a Tidal Wetlands Permit.  A Permit is typically required for activities including excavation of small boat mooring slips, maintenance or repair of bridges, roads, or highways, and construction of catwalks, piers, docks, landings and observation decks. 

Forms and Applications
Forms and applications for Tidal Wetlands Permits can be found at the Division of Land Use Regulation website:


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Freshwater Wetlands Permit

If your land contains freshwater wetlands, you are very limited in what you may do in the wetlands. The Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act requires NJDEP to regulate virtually all activities proposed in the wetland, including cutting of vegetation, dredging, excavation or removal of soil, drainage or disturbance of the water level, filling or discharge of any materials, driving of pilings, and placing of obstructions.

How Do I Tell If My Land Might Contain Wetlands?

Determining whether your land has wetland requires detailed information about the site, and may require an inspecting the property.  For a definite determination, you may need to hire an environmental consultant.  Here are some clues that an area might be a wetland.  If your land has any of the conditions below, you should investigate before going ahead with a project:
   • The area often has standing water;
   • The area is a low spot that holds water for several days after a heavy rain;
   • The water table in the area is not far below the ground surface;
   • Your land contains a stream or pond, with gentle banks (you may have a fringe of wetlands along the banks); or
   • Your land is located near a river, stream, or lake.

Do not assume that an area cannot be a wetland because it has a mature forest on it, or because it does not have standing water.  Many wetlands in New Jersey are forested areas without visible standing water.

If you think you might have wetlands on your land

Look at the New Jersey freshwater wetlands maps.  Your municipal clerk and county clerk's office have both been given these maps for public use.  The maps can also be obtained from NJDEP's Maps and Publications Office at (609) 777-1038, or, if your county or public library has a GIS (Geographic Information System) computer system, the maps can be viewed on their computer.

The New Jersey freshwater wetlands maps provide guidance on where wetlands are found in New Jersey, but they are not the final word.  Only an official determination from NJDEP, called a "letter of interpretation" can tell you for sure if you have freshwater wetlands on your property. An letter of interpretation verifies the presence, absence, or boundaries of freshwater wetlands and transition areas on a site.

To get a letter of interpretation from the NJDEP, call (609) 777-0454 and ask for the letter of interpretation information and application package. 

Regulated Activities

A freshwater Wetlands Permit is needed prior to engaging in a regulated activity in or around freshwater wetlands and associated transition areas.  Regulated activities include:
   • The removal, excavation, disturbance or dredging of soil, sand, gravel or aggregate material of any kind;
   • The drainage or disturbance of the water level or water table;
   • The dumping, discharging or filling with any material;
   • The driving of pilings;
   • The placing of obstructions; and
   • The destruction of plant life which would alter the character of a freshwater wetland or transition area, including the cutting of trees.  In addition, the placement of dredged or fill material into state open waters will require an open water fill permit.

General Permits vs. Individual Permits

The most common type of freshwater wetlands permit is a general permit. General permits cover a limited number of very minor activities, such as:
   • repair of existing structures
   • short roads or driveways;
   • docks;
   • utility lines;
   • stream bank stabilization; and
   • septic system repair

If your activity is not eligible for authorization under a general permit, NJDEP may, in very limited circumstances, issue an individual freshwater wetlands permit. Individual permits require an extensive alternatives analysis and are therefore much less common than general permits.

Once an application has been declared administratively complete for review, the NJDEP must issues the following:
   • Letter of Exemption within 75 days
   • Letter of Interpretation within 75 days
   • Individual Permit within 180 days
   • Transition Area Waiver within 90 days
   • General Permit within 60 days

Forms and Applications
To obtain the necessary forms and applications visit the following website:

Fees for Freshwater Wetlands permit range from free to $600, depending on the type of activity.


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Clean Water Act §401 Water Quality Certificates

All projects that require a federal permit for the discharge of dredged or fill material into New Jersey State waters and/or their adjacent wetlands also require the State Water Quality Certification, which insures consistency with State water quality standards and management policies.  Project of this nature that lie within the Coastal Zone shall receive Water Quality Certification through a Joint Waterfront Development/Water Quality Certification application administered by the NJDEP, Land Use Regulation Program.  The Waterfront Development Permit application will constitute a joint application for both requirements. 

Projects within the jurisdiction of the Freshwater protection Act will receive a decision on certification through the application for a Freshwater Wetland or State Open Water Permit.


New Jersey Water Pollution Control Act – N.J.S.A. 58: 10A 1 to 13
Federal Clean Water Act Amendments of 1977, 33 U.S.C. 1251 Section 401

Projects not under the jurisdiction of Waterfront Development or CAFRA, or projects exempt from the Freshwater Wetlands Act, will be issued individual certificates that can take up to 180 days for issuance.  Projects that can be appended to Land Use Regulation Program permits will be issued within 90 days. 


There is no fee requirement.

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Tidelands Conveyances

Tidelands, also known as riparian lands, are all those lands now or formerly flowed by the mean high tide of a natural waterway.  These lands are owned by the State of New Jersey.  As a result, you must get permission from the State to use these lands, in the form of a tidelands license, lease, or grant.  If a project is located on or over state-owned riparian lands, it will likely require a grant, lease, or licenses from the Tidelands Resource Council.

Application Procedure
To receive a grant, lease, license, an applicant must obtain an application package by telephoning the Bureau of Tidelands Management or by visiting the Tidelands Literature webpage (see contact information below).  Each package will contain a set of instructions as well as a list of the application requirements and a set of appropriate forms.
NJDEP Bureau of Tidelands Management: (609) 292.2573
Tideland Literature webpage:

To find out more about the Tidelands Program and read the FAQs, visit the program website at:


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Resource Recovery and Conservation Act

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is the federal law that regulates the characterization, generation, handling, transportation, and disposal of hazardous waste.  New Jersey has been authorized by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency to administer RCRA permitting at the State level.  Contact NJDEP to learn more about the State’s Hazardous Waste Program.

What Are Hazardous Wastes?
Hazardous wastes can be liquids, solids, or sludges.  They can be by-products of manufacturing processes or discarded commercial products.  If hazardous wastes are not handled properly, they pose a potential hazard to people and the environment.  To ensure that companies handle waste safely and responsibly, EPA has written regulations that track hazardous wastes from the moment they are produced until their ultimate disposal.  The regulations set standards for the hazardous waste management facilities that treat, store, and dispose of hazardous wastes.

What Is A Hazardous Waste Management Facility?
Hazardous waste management facilities receive hazardous wastes for treatment, storage, or disposal. These facilities are often referred to as treatment, storage, and disposal facilities, or TSDFs.

Treatment facilities use various processes (such as incineration or oxidation) to alter the character or composition of hazardous wastes.  Some treatment processes enable waste to be recovered and reused in manufacturing settings, while other treatment processes dramatically reduce the amount of hazardous waste.

Storage facilities temporarily hold hazardous wastes until they are treated or disposed of.

Disposal facilities permanently contain hazardous wastes.  The most common type of disposal facility is a landfill, where hazardous wastes are disposed of in carefully constructed units designed to protect groundwater and surface-water resources.

What Laws And Regulations Govern TSDFs?
EPA has written detailed regulations to make sure that TSDFs operate safely and protect people and the environment.  EPA wrote these regulations to implement the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976 and the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984.  The U.S. Congress passed these laws to address public concerns about the management of hazardous waste.

EPA can authorize states to carry out the RCRA program.  To receive authorization, state requirements must be as strict, or stricter, than the federal requirements. Federal or state agencies that implement RCRA are known as "permitting agencies."

What Is A RCRA Permit?

A RCRA permit is a legally binding document that establishes the waste management activities that a facility can conduct and the conditions under which it can conduct them.  The permit outlines facility design and operation, lays out safety standards, and describes activities that the facility must perform, such as monitoring and reporting.  Permits typically require facilities to develop emergency plans, find insurance and financial backing, and train employees to handle hazards.  Permits also can include facility-specific requirements such as ground-water monitoring.  The permitting agency has the authority to issue or deny permits and is responsible for monitoring the facility to ensure that it is complying with the conditions in the permit.  According to RCRA and its regulations, a TSDF cannot operate without a permit, with a few exceptions.

Who Needs A RCRA Permit?
All facilities that currently or plan to treat, store, or dispose of hazardous wastes must obtain a RCRA permit.

   • New TSDFs must receive a permit before they even begin construction. They must prove that they can manage hazardous waste safely and responsibly. The permitting agency reviews the permit application and decides whether the facility is qualified to receive a RCRA permit. Once issued, a permit may last up to 10 years.
   •  Operating TSDFs with expiring permits must submit new permit applications six months before their existing permits run out.
   • TSDFs operating under Interim Status must also apply for a permit. Congress granted "interim status" to facilities that already existed when RCRA was enacted. Interim status allows existing facilities to continue operating while their permit applications are being reviewed.

Who Does Not Need A RCRA Permit?

There are certain situations where a company is not required to obtain a RCRA a permit.

   • Businesses that generate hazardous waste and transport it off site without storing it for long periods of time do not need a RCRA permit.
   • Businesses that transport hazardous waste do not need a RCRA permit.
   • Businesses that store hazardous waste for short periods of time without treating it do not need a permit.

What Are The Steps In The Permitting Process?

Step 1: Starting the Process
Before a business even submits a permit application, it must hold an informal meeting with the public. The business must announce the "preapplication" meeting by putting up a sign on or near the proposed facility property, running an advertisement on radio or television, and placing a display advertisement in a newspaper. At the meeting, the business explains the plans for the facility, including information about the proposed processes it will use and wastes it will handle. The public has the opportunity to ask questions and make suggestions. The business may choose to incorporate the public's suggestions into its application. The permitting agency uses the attendance list from the meeting to help set up a mailing list for the facility.

Step 2: Applying for a Permit
After considering input from the preapplication meeting, the business may decide to submit a permit application. Permit applications are often lengthy. They must include a description of the facility and address the following:

   o how the facility will be designed, constructed, maintained, and operated to be protective of public health    and the environment;
   o how any emergencies and spills will be handled, should they occur;
   o how the facility will clean up and finance any environmental contamination that occurs; and
   o how the facility will close and clean up once it is no longer operating.

Step 3: Receipt and Review of the Application
When the permitting agency receives a permit application, it sends a notice to everyone on the mailing list.  The notice indicates that the agency has received the application and will make it available for public review.  The permitting agency must then place a copy of the application in a public area for review.

Simultaneously, the permitting agency begins to review the application to make sure it contains all the information required by the regulations.  The proposed design and operation of the facility are also evaluated by the permitting agency to determine if the facility can be built and operated safely.

Step 4: Revisions, Revisions, Revisions
After reviewing the application, the permitting agency may issue a Notice of Deficiency (NOD) to the applicant. NODs identify and request that the applicant provide any missing information.  During the application review and revision process, the permitting agency may issue several NODs.  Each time the permitting agency receives a response from the applicant, it reviews the information and, if necessary, issues another NOD until the application is complete.  Given the complex and technical nature of the information, the review and revision process may take several years.

Step 5: Drafting the Permit for Public Review
When the revisions are complete, the agency makes a preliminary decision about whether to issue or deny the permit.  If the agency decides that the application is complete and meets appropriate standards, the agency issues a draft permit containing the conditions under which the facility can operate if the permit receives final approval.  If the permitting agency determines that an applicant cannot provide an application that meets the standards, the agency tentatively denies the permit and prepares a "notice of intent to deny."

The permitting agency announces its decision by sending a letter to everyone on the mailing list, placing a notice in a local paper, and broadcasting it over the radio.  It also issues a fact sheet to explain the decision.  Once the notice is issued, the public has 45 days to comment on the decision.  Citizens also may request a public hearing by contacting the permitting agency. The permitting agency may also hold a hearing at its own discretion.  The agency must give 30-day public notice before the hearing.

Step 6: The End Result: A Final Permit Decision
After carefully considering public comments, the permitting agency reconsiders the draft permit or the notice of intent to deny the permit.  The agency must issue a "response to public comments," specifying any changes made to the draft permit.  The agency then issues the final permit or denies the permit.

Even after issuing a permit, the permitting agency continues to monitor the construction and operation of the facility to make sure they are consistent with state and federal rules and with the application.

Several additional steps can also take place after the original permit is issued:
   • Permit Appeals:  Facility owners and the public both have a right to appeal the final permit decision. The appeal is usually decided upon by administrative law judges.
   • Permit Modifications: If a facility changes its management procedures, mechanical operations, or the wastes it handles, then it must secure a permit modification.  For modifications that significantly change facility operations, the public must receive early notice and have a chance to participate and comment.  For minor modifications, the facility must notify the public within a week of making the change.
   • Permit Renewals.  The permitting agency can renew permits that are due to expire.  Permit holders that are seeking a permit renewal must follow the same procedures as a facility seeking a new permit.
   • Permit Terminations. If a facility violates the terms of its permit, the permitting agency can terminate the permit.

Coastal Area Facility Review Act Permit

The Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA) Permit applies to projects near coastal waters in the southern part of New Jersey.  The CAFRA area begins where the Cheesequake Creek enters Raritan Bay in Old Bridge, Middlesex County. It extends south along the coast around Cape May, and then north along the Delaware Bay ending at the Kilcohook National Wildlife Refuge in Salem County.  If your project is in the northern part of New Jersey, and not within the defined CAFRA jurisdiction, your project is regulated under the Waterfront Development Permit, not CAFRA. 

The CAFRA Permit regulates all development on beaches and dunes, and the first house or other development within 150 feet of tidal waters, beach or a dune.  However, if there is an existing, intervening development (for example, a house) between a proposed project and the water, beach or a dune, CAFRA will apply only to: residential developments with three or more units; to commercial developments with five or more parking spaces, and to all public and industrial developments.


Other Relevant Agencies and Permits

If your project requires a tideland conveyance in the form of a grant, lease or license, it is likely that the project also requires other State approvals.  Depending on the project, you may need a Tideland Conveyance, Waterfront Development Permit, Coastal or Freshwater Wetlands Permit, or Water Quality Certificate. For more information about these regulatory permits, you should contact the Division of Land Use Regulation tech support line at (609) 777.0454.  In addition, your project may require authorization form the Army Corps of Engineers.

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