Guidelines for Maintaining Streams in Your Community

DEP wants to help Pennsylvania communities complete all necessary stream work in a way that is environmentally-responsible, reduces the likelihood of future ooding problems, and complies with regulations. When in doubt, contact PA DEP for assistance before you start stream work projects.

Green Light-Go!

Proceed—These actions do not require DEP notification, pre-approval, or additional permits:

  • Removing woody debris and manmade debris materials from the stream, banks, and riparian areas by hand or using handheld equipment
  • Removing above items using heavy equipment from the bank; equipment should not enter the stream or dig into the streambed
  • Removing gravel and debris in and close to bridges and culverts (Note: review permit conditions first)
  • Crossing a flooded stream for emergency access to your property, if conditions are safe

Yellow Light-Slow Down!

Call DEP first—Notification, pre-approval, or emergency permits may be required:

  • Rebuilding roads and bridges across streams
  • Streambank stabilization projects, including riprap
  • Removing gravel bars from the stream channel using heavy equipment
  • Repairing a bridge or culvert, or removing one in danger of failure

Red Light-Stop!

These actions require permits from DEP, and possibly from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or other agencies:

  • Redirecting the flow of a stream by reshaping gravel bars, or moving gravel to the streambank
  • Moving/relocating a stream
  • Dredging or damming streams, or creating dikes Building a new bridge or culvert

For more detailed guidelines, please see the following DEP PDF Resource.