State and federal permits are required before installing your living shoreline.  But, if installing a more natural shoreline, there are expedited permitting processes at the state and federal levels to simplify the process.  The state expedited permit is called a Statewide Activity Approval (SAA), and the federal expedited permit is called a Nationwide Permit (NWP).  In order to be applicable for these permits, your project must fall within the limiting criteria, maximum project length and width, and have few negative impacts on subaqueous (underwater) lands, water quality and habitat.

If your project does not fall within the criteria listed in the expedited permit process, there are other ways to permit the project.  Please see the contacts below for more information.  You can also hire a living shoreline provider to help navigate the permitting process.


Federal Jurisdiction

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has the authority to regulate activities in streams, wetlands and other waters of the United States under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899.  

Nationwide permits (NWPs) are the expedited permitting process that can be used to authorize the installation of living shorelines.  In particular, NWP No. 13 for Bank Stabilization and NWP No. 54 for Living Shorelines are often applicable to the proposed project.  A pre-construction notification to the Army Corps may be required dependent upon the NWP, general conditions or regional conditions and the activity proposed.


Regulator of the Day: 215-656-6728

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State Jurisdiction

Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control

Wetlands and Subaqueous Lands Section (WSLS)

The State of Delaware has authority under 7 Del. C., Chapter 72, The Subaqueous Lands Act, “Regulations Governing the Use of Subaqueous Lands” to regulate activities channelward of the mean high water line in tidal waterbodies and channelward of the ordinary high water line in non-tidal features such as ponds, intermittent and perennial streams.

The Statewide Activity Approval (SAA) for Shoreline Stabilization Projects in Tidal and Non-Tidal Waters of the State of Delaware is the simplified permitting process to be used in applying for the construction of your living shoreline.

The Sussex Conservation District, in cooperation with DNREC, Division of Water and Division of Watershed Stewardship provides cost-share assistance for vegetative shoreline stabilization on an interim basis.  When applying to the WSLS for construction activity, be sure to request if funding is available and applicable to your project.


Scientist of the Day: 302-739-9943


State Jurisdiction

Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control

Delaware Coastal Programs

The Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) of 1972 authorized the Federal Consistency program which implemented a partnership between the federal government and a state’s Coastal Zone Management policies.

Coastal Zone Consistency may be required dependent upon the location of the project (such as in critical resource waters) or if your project exceeds the limitations of the nationwide permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  


Questions: 302-739-9283

State of Delaware Permit Application Required Documents

  1. Basic application form, with proper applicant listed
  2. Appropriate appendices (Appendix H-FillAppendix J-Vegetation, Appendix I – Rip Rap)
  3. Copy of property Deed
  4. Copy of property Survey
  5. Plan view of the project indicating mean high water (MHW) and mean low water (MLW)
  6. Aerial map and driving directions to site
  7. Underwater landowner signature (as appropriate)
  8. Check made payable to the State of Delaware for $225.00
  9. Three copies of the completed application mailed to: DNREC, Division of Water Resources, Wetlands and Subaqueous Lands Section (WSLS), 89 Kings Highway, Dover, Delaware

It is highly suggested that you contact DNREC's Wetlands and Subaqueous Lands Section prior to beginning the application process to discuss your project needs to ensure permits are processed in a timely manner.

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