Did you recently buy a property with a significant erosion issue in your yard? If you did and you’re thinking about having it repaired, then it would be wise to contact DL Howell. The erosion issue could consist of a long eroded channel that may have been caused by a pipe upstream that is conveying a high velocity of water through your yard. This becomes a complicated situation because the eroded channel could be classified as a stream per The Pennsylvania Code. A stream is defined as a channel or conveyance of surface water having a defined bed and banks, whether natural or artificial, with a perennial or intermittent flow. If the eroded channel in your yard only conveys water during a storm event, it may still be classified as a stream per this definition.

An eroded channel in your yard can be a nuisance. It may be displeasing to look at and could pose major safety risks for children and even animals. If the channel has a defined bed and bank, then it will most likely be deemed as a stream. Typically, whenever earth disturbance is proposed within a stream as defined above, general permits are required. However, there is a stipulation that allows a water obstruction in a stream or floodway without having to be reported to the state as long as it satisfies the proper criteria. A water obstruction is defined as a dike, bridge, culvert, wall, wing wall, fill, pier, wharf, embankment, abutment or other structure located in, along or across or projecting into a watercourse, floodway or body of water. A permit for a water obstruction can be waived as long as the drainage area is 100 acres or less and no wetlands are located within the floodway. This waived activity is classified as a Waiver 2.

In addition to the waiver of permit requirements stipulated in the PA Code, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also requires that there be no more than 250 linear feet of stream disturbance and a Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory (PNDI) search receipt dated May 4, 2015, or later, that states “No Known Impact, No Further Review Required” for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for it to be a non-reporting activity. However, there are some exceptions to the PNDI requirement which would still allow the work to be a non-reporting activity. In addition, even if the project satisfies all of the above criteria, the local municipality will most likely require a plan review to ensure that the work complies with their code.

Please keep in mind that a water obstruction can still be constructed if any of the aforementioned requirements aren’t met. However, a general permit would then have to be applied for with the state and/or with the USACE. Please contact us if you need assistance or guidance in addressing your erosion issue.