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Stream realignment and enclosure

Waterway protection

NOTES ON WATERWAYS PERMITS

For each project type below, if an exemption or a general permit is available, you will find a link to a checklist of requirements. If your project does not meet exemption eligibility criteria, review the general permit checklist. If your project does not meet general permit eligibility criteria, you must apply for an individual permit.

To start a permit application, use the DNR Water ePermitting System. A WAMS ID is required.

To determine if a local permit or a federal permit is required for your project, contact your city or county zoning authority [exit DNR] and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – St. Paul District Office [exit DNR].

State law requires a landowner with a project site that is 1 acre or larger in size to obtain a construction site stormwater permit. To submit a notice of intent, visit the DNR Stormwater Runoff Permitting page.

Applicable state statutes and administrative code: ss. 30.195 and 30.196, Wis. Stats. [exit DNR].

Permitting Options

A permit is required to alter the course of a stream, including stream relocation or enclosing a waterway into a pipe drain, conduit, or storm sewer.

Under state law, only municipalities can apply to enclose a waterway. If you are a municipality and are proposing to enclose a waterway, contact your local Waterways Team Staff for more information.

Stream realignment or enclosure projects require an engineering analysis and an Environmental Assessment (EA). Please visit the Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act (WEPA) page for more information.

Do I Need a Permit?

This is a text link version of our stream realignment interactive question and answer module. If you see this message, you currently have JavaScript disabled or are in compatibility mode while using Internet Explorer. This text version is here to help you understand if you need a permit from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for your stream realignment project, and if so, which one. Please go through and answer each question. This will help you determine which permit you will need.

Question 1 :

Please choose the answer that best describes your project:


 

 

If your answer is "I would like to realign or move a navigable stream,” go to Question 2.

If your answer is "I would like to confine a navigable stream into a pipe, storm sewer or a similar structure,” go to Question 4.

Question 2 :

Is the stream located on municipal or county-owned lands in Milwaukee County?

If your answer is "Yes,” :

You've answered Yes:

Your project is exempt from permitting under s. 30.195, Wis. Stats, but you may need a dredging permit. Please see dredging for more information.

If your answer is "No,” go to Question 3.

Question 3 :

Are you the riparian property owner and will you realign the stream on a property you own?

If your answer is "Yes,” :

You've answered Yes:

You may be eligible for an individual permit for stream realignment. To apply for an individual permit, please visit the individual permits page.*Please note: WAMS ID and password required to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one before proceeding.

Please also be aware there are additional permit standards you must meet before the department may approve the realignment of a stream. For example:

  1. The proposed realignment of the stream will improve the economic or aesthetic value of the applicant's land.
  2. The proposed realignment of the stream will not adversely affect the flood flow capacity of the stream or otherwise be detrimental to the public interest.
  3. The proposed change of course or straightening of the navigable stream will not be detrimental to the rights of other riparian owners located on the stream or all of these riparian owners have consented to the issuance of the permit.

Please note that to meet the additional permit standards, one component of a complete application for stream realignment is a hydrologic and hydraulic analysis for the existing and proposed channel that looks at the design storms of the two-year and 100-year events. If the 100-year flood profile raises the flood elevation on property owned by someone else, you must provide flooding easements from all affected owners.

Please note that there are additional permit standards you must meet before the department may approve the permit. Please review the additional standards, found in the Stream Realignment Individual Permit Checklist [PDF] before applying for a permit.

As always, before starting any project, please make sure that there are no federal or local regulations for your proposed project.

If your answer is "No,” :

You've answered No:

You will not be eligible for a permit from the DNR unless you obtain written permission from the riparian owner(s), where the stream is currently located and where the stream will be relocated.

Question 4 :

Are you a municipality? In other words, a town, village, city or county?

If your answer is "Yes,” :

You've answered Yes:

You may be eligible for an individual permit to enclose a stream under s. 30.196, Wis. Stats., and select miscellaneous structures. To apply for an individual permit, please visit the individual permits page and select miscellaneous structures.*Please note: WAMS ID and password required to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one before proceeding.

Please also be aware there are additional permit standards you must meet before the department may approve the enclosure of a stream. For example:

  1. The proposed enclosure of the stream must be in the public interest,
  2. The proposed enclosure of the stream may not violate public rights,
  3. The proposed enclosure will not endanger life, health or property.

Please note that to meet the additional permit standards, one component of a complete application for stream enclosure is a hydrologic and hydraulic analysis for the existing and proposed channel that looks at the design storms of the two-year and 100-year events. If the 100-year flood profile raises the flood elevation on property owned by someone else, you must provide flooding easements from all affected owners.

Please note that there are additional permit standards you must meet before the department may approve the permit. Please review the additional standards, found in the department’s Stream Realignment Individual Permit Checklist [PDF] before applying for a permit.

As always, before starting any project, please make sure that there are no federal or local regulations for your proposed project.

If your answer is "No,” :

You've answered No:

You are not eligible for a permit under s. 30.196, Wis. Stats.