Dredging Permits

Learn everything you need to know about acquiring a dredging permit for your marine construction project.

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Dredging Permits Overview

What is a Dredging Permit?

Dredging is the process used to remove debris or material from a body of water. Federal law requires any person who is looking to place dredging material in any water within the United States to have a dredging permit. This is stated under the Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1976.

Permits may also be required if lands are re-dredged after the initial process.

What Problems It Solves:

Typically, dredging permits are legally required for any type of dredging project.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Dredging Permits


Once you determine how to get a dredging permit in your area, you may find it’s easy to finish out your project. 

  • Obtaining a permit ensures that you won’t be subject to fees for violations.
  • Some states give dredging permit exemptions for small ponds, but size regulations may vary. 
  • Dredging may have positive environmental impacts.


In some cases, getting a dredging permit can be a daunting process.

  • The dredging permit process can be lengthy (and costly). 
  • The dredging process may have negative environmental impacts. 
  • The construction process can be difficult depending on the land and the water.

Dredging Permits Process

Permitting Process

Before you can start to dredge, you need to obtain your dredging permit. Fill out the application form by providing the following information:

  1. The number of materials that will be dredged.
  2. The condition of the proposed disposal site and the location of the site.
  3. Names and addresses of any affected landowners nearby.
  4. Sketches of the work, as requested.
  5. Specific information on water depth and disposal site conditions.

Next Steps for Dredging Jobs

All marine construction services need to know the proper protocol and how to handle dredging permits plus solutions like rip rap shorelines. 

Consult with a professional to ensure you have the right permits on hand, or find a marine construction company to handle the details (and the installation) for you.

Different Types of Dredging Permits

The CWA regulates dredge and fill material, but various agencies have a hand in the dredge permit process. For example, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers handles permit decisions and determines the applicable jurisdictions. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) develops the guidelines for evaluating dredge permit applications and lays out the rules for exemptions. Finally, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marines Fisheries Service both evaluate the impact of dredging activities on wildlife and fish.

Your dredging permit is subject to all these rules, and it can be a time-consuming process to handle as a homeowner or business owner. 

Costs of Dredging Permits

Your future dredging process depends on the project. A hydrographic survey is done to confirm the water depth. Then a sediment survey is completed to provide information on the thickness of the soft sediment. You will likely need to invest in hiring professional surveyors. Be sure to check for proper insurance credentials, too. 

Once you find out how much sediment or rock needs to be removed, you then need to find a place for it to go. Transporting material can involve high costs, depending on the amount of material and the distance it must travel. For example, harbor maintenance costs $24.27 per cubic yard for dredging and disposal in San Francisco, CA. In New Orleans, the cost per cubic yard averages $2.62.

Additional dredging costs may include:

  • Hiring drivers
  • Tools and equipment
  • The type of pump you require 
  • The size of the disposal area 
  • Include primary cost drivers

DIY Solutions for Dredging Permits

It’s possible to dredge on your own, but you’ll still need to hire equipment and pay for permits. 

Whether you choose to dredge yourself or you hire a professional company, be sure to start your dredging permit application here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to get a dredging exemption?

In some cases, applicants may submit a self-certification to explain that the dredging is exempt from Waste Materials Management consultation. This involves additional paperwork and evidence, however.

What is a Usace 404 Permit?

The Usace 404 permit refers to Section 404 of the CWA, which covers the permits for dredging. You’ll need this for your dredging project.

What is dredge fill?

Fill material is what you use to fill in a dredged area; the federal government defines this as material that replaces water with dry land or changes the bottom elevation of “any portion of a water” in the U.S.

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