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Regulations for Building Ponds in Pennsylvania

Building a pond in Pennsylvania is a rewarding project that leads to lifelong benefits like wildlife observation, swimming and fishing. However, before diving into such a project it is critical to check into local and state regulatory agencies regarding permitting and environmental concerns. If the required permits are not secured before construction you may be subject to heavy fines and possible jail time.

Natural Resources Conservation Service

Before building a backyard pond in Pennsylvania, you must take the state's regulations into account.

The first agency you'll want to check with is the Pennsylvania Natural Resources Conservation Service. Upon request, they will give you a free guide to pond building to get you started. The agency is also a valuable resource for determining if and where a pond can be constructed on your property.

Pennsylvania NRCS State Office One Credit Union Place, Suite 340 Harrisburg, PA 17110-2993 717-237-2100

County Conservation District

You must also contact your local county conservation distrist, which specializes in permitting for the meat and potatoes of building a pond--the excavation.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

If your property includes or is near any kind of stream, creek or wetlands, you'll have to get in touch with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Should your pond be connected to one of these bodies of water or potentially overflow to them, you must acquire a 404 permit in accordance with the Clean Water Act.

Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 441 G. Street, NW Washington, DC 20314-1000 202-761-5903

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

If you plan on damming a stream to fill your pond or building an especially large pond, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection handles the regulations associated with this type of construction and special permits must be sought.

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection 3001 Fairway Drive Altoona, PA 16602 814-946-7290

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission

Contacting the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will usually only be necessary after the pond is constructed and filled and you need permitting to apply aquatic herbicides, algaecides, rotenone or stock triploid grass carp for submersed weed control. For larger ponds that require draw down to repair a structure or dredge, this commission is the agency to contact in these cases, as well.

Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program

Though it's not a regulation per se, as a steward of the environment you afford the responsibility to be cognitive of threatened and endangered species that may be affected by your new pond. The Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program can provide you with educational materials as well as advice on the topic.

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Office of Conservation Science Wild Resource Conservation Fund P.O. Box 8764 Harrisburg, PA 17105-8764 717-783-1639