Most creek repair work requires permitting through the following agencies:
- Your local municipality
- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- The Regional Water Quality Control Board
- and occasionally other agencies such as the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC)
See below for helpful guidance and resources. Also, check out the San Francisco Regional Water Board's stream maintenance and enhancement projects best management practices and permit requirements and Marin County Guide to Creek and Wetland Permits for additional information.
Note: Permitting agencies favor projects with design elements that will protect and enhance the natural environment. See our Creek Care Guide and Repairing Creekbank Erosion for more information.
If you're considering a project in or near a creek or other waterbody, contact your local municipality to find out if you'll need a permit and for local applications and fees. Most municipalities require a creek, building, or grading permit for construction in or near a creek or other waterway.
This creek permit check list specifies the information typically needed to evaluate a project that includes work in and around creeks. By using the checklist, your project may be reviewed more quickly because the staff reviewing the permit will have the information they need to determine the potential impacts and benefits of the proposed project.
Does Your Project Require California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Review?
Contact your local municipality to find out if local CEQA review is necessary. The main purpose of CEQA review is to identify and prevent significant potential environmental impacts from proposed projects. CEQA review is usually handled by the local Planning Department. If CEQA review is required, you'll need to complete the review before regional, state or federal permits are issued.
Marin Project Coordination (MPC) - Free Advice
MCSTOPPP holds monthly meetings to help guide potential project applicants through the environmental and regulatory permit process. Project applicants share their prospective creek projects for free input and constructive feedback from staff of the permitting agencies. These meetings are intended to provide a forum for interaction and input, not public comment or regulatory action.
For information about the MPC, or to be placed on the agenda, call MCSTOPPP staff at (415) 473-3748.
Combined Permit Application Under JARPA
In addition to local permits, you may need permits from federal, state, and regional agencies before you can begin your project. Obtaining some permits can be a lengthy process and may sometimes take up to a year depending on the complexity of your project.
Depending on the permitting agency, you may be able to save some time by using the JARPA application to apply for permits for your creek related project. The Bay Area Joint Aquatic Resources Permit Application (JARPA) is for development, construction, grading, erosion repair, dredging, or restoration activities in or near Bay Area aquatic environments. It allows applicants to fill out one application and submit copies of the same information to participating state, federal, and regional agencies involved in the permitting process; however, some of the information may be required to be formatted differently by individual agencies (e.g. one agency may need maps or plans in a size larger than another agency). Be sure you are providing a complete application by using the correct format required by each agency. Contact information for permitting agencies is provided below.
State and Federal Permitting Agencies
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
P.O. Box 47, Yountville, CA 94599
Fish and Game Code section 1602 requires any person, state or local governmental agency, or public utility to notify DFW before beginning any activity that will substantially modify a river, stream, or lake. To obtain permission from DFW to proceed with your project you need to submit a Lake or Streambed Alteration Notification Form. For permit fees please see the DFG website.
San Francisco District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
1455 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103-1398
Streambank repair work often comes under Nationwide Permit 13: Bank Stabilization, and there will be no charge for the permit, although the ACOE may need advance notification of the work. If your project does not fall under Nationwide Permit 13 requirements, and depending on the details of the repair, the permit fee may be up to $100.
San Francisco Bay Area Regional Water Quality Control Board
1515 Clay Street, Suite 1400, Oakland, CA 94612
The RWQCB issues water quality certifications for all Army Corps of Engineers permits. For permit fees please see the RWQCB permit fee schedule on the website. This agency may require some additional information that is not requested in the JARPA application. Check their website for the most recent requirements.
Other Agencies that May Be Involved in the Permitting or Permit Review Process
San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC)
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries (NOAA)
- Formerly Known as National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
California Coastal Commission
State Water Resources Control Board
Sacramento Army Corps of Engineers
Disclaimer: Every attempt has been made to assure that the information contained above is accurate. The Marin County Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program assumes no responsibility and disclaims any liability for any injury or damage resulting from the use or effect of any product or information specified above.