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Division of Land Use Regulation
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

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NOTE: All webpages and forms listed on this website are being amended in accordance with the December 18, 2017 rule changes. We will be updating these pages as soon as possible. While these updates are in progress, our web pages may contain inaccuracies. Please refer to the appropriate rule for the most accurate and updated regulations for your activity of concern.

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Freshwater Wetlands - Application Guidance
Underground Utility Lines (General Permit 2)

  • Overview
  • Application Guidance
  • Rules
  • FAQ

General Permit Number 2 (GP2) authorizes activities in freshwater wetlands, transition areas, and/or State open waters, necessary for the construction and/or maintenance of an underground utility line. This could be anything from a gas line to placement of fiber optic telecommunication cable. Any linear disturbance intended for a utility line.

If a utility line is jacked or directionally drilled underground, so that there is no surface disturbance of any freshwater wetlands, transition areas, or State open waters and there is no draining or dewatering of freshwater wetlands, no Department approval is required under this chapter. Directionally drilled utility lines, if improperly constructed, have the potential to act as "french drains", in essence creating a conduit for water to flow. As such, it is important to implement measures such as anti-seep collars to prevent movement of water. In addition, perched water on which a wetland system may depend could be the result of a "clay lens" which, if punctured by construction of a utility line, can alter a wetland system.

In order to determine whether or not an area of freshwater wetlands, transition areas or State open waters may be disturbed by any proposed activity, detailed information about that wetlands and the site must be obtained, and an inspection of the property by a representative of the Department is required. The Department offers a “Letter of Interpretation" (LOI), which is a document that may describe if there are wetlands on the property, and if so, where they are located.

A GP 2 may be combined with other general permits or permits provided the total disturbance of all GP's do not exceed the one acre threshold for multiple general permits.

This page is for informational purposes only. Please see N.J.A.C. 7:7A-5.2 for the precise rules concerning this General Permit.


  1. Total permanent disturbance above ground disturbance can be no greater than 0.5 acre.
  2. Permanently maintained clearing over the utility line shall be no wider than 20 feet unless a wider area is required by law;
  3. The utility line trench must be no wider than necessary to comply with OSHA safety standards for excavations;
  4. Temporary disturbance must be the minimum necessary for compliance with applicable laws;
  5. Post construction elevations must match pre construction elevations; and
  6. Manholes and siphons for sewer lines must be placed outside of wetlands, unless there is no demonstrative alternative.
  7. Mitigation must be performed for all permanent loss and/or disturbance of 0.1 acres or greater of freshwater wetlands or State open waters unless the applicant demonstrates to the Department that all activities have been designed to avoid and minimize impacts to wetlands. (The Department will not issue an authorization under General Permit 2 until the mitigation proposal is approved, if one is required.)

Minimizing Impact:

  1. Dispose of any excess soil or bedding material immediately upon completion of construction outside of DEP regulated areas;
  2. Backfill the top 18 inches of excavated areas with the original topsoil material;
  3. Replant any disturbed area with suitable indigenous plants;
  4. Stabilize the disturbed area in accordance with SCD; and
  5. Ensure that construction does not interfere with the natural hydraulic characteristics of the wetland, such as the flow characteristics of groundwater on the site by:
    1. Properly sealed so as to prevent leaking or infiltration;
    2. Designing the project so it does not form a conduit for groundwater to be discharged or drained from the wetland; and
    3. Placing the utility line entirely beneath the pre-existing ground elevation to allow free passage of surface and ground water
      1. Alternatives to subsurface placement area allowed if the applicant shows that placing some or all of the utility line above ground would be more environmentally beneficial

Getting a GP2: If you believe that your project will require a GP2, and you do not know how to apply for one, we suggest that you visit "The Permit Process" section of this website for more information. It will give you a general overview on the ins and outs of permitting, and will direct you to the forms necessary to apply. Please be advised that any application submitted must follow the procedures and information require me. If you intend on applying for multiple freshwater wetland general permits, be advised that there are strict limits on what can and cannot be applied for, with a 1 acre cap on wetland disturbance for any one project site.

All freshwater wetland general permits must comply with all applicable requirements at N.J.A.C. 7:7A-4.3, Conditions that apply to all general permits, and N.J.A.C. 7:7A-13.2, Establishing permit conditions.

Note: The Department has, for your convenience, developed an Application Checklist for General Permits. Please follow carefully the requirements as outlined on this checklist to insure that you have all of the required information necessary to complete and process your application.

A direct link to the rules cited in our standard approval letter under "Permit Conditions" for this General Permit can be found below.

7:7A-5.2 General permit 2--Underground utility lines

7:7A-4.3 Conditions that apply to all general permit authorizations

7:7A-13.1 Standard conditions that apply to all permits

7:7A - Index to the entire rule.

Please Note: The Department has made every effort to ensure that the text of this regulation is identical to the official, legally effective version set forth in the New Jersey Register. However, should there be any discrepancies between the text on this web site and the official version of the rule, the official version will govern. For more information on obtaining official versions of the rules, How To Get a Paper Copy of Department Rules

Frequently Asked Questions

If you do not see an answer to your question below, please use the Land Use Contact form on this website. We will make every attempt to answer your question as promptly as possible.

Q: Must I put all of the utility line underground?

A: Alternatives to subsurface placement area allowed if the applicant shows that placing some or all of the utility line above ground would be more environmentally beneficial

Q: If I jack or directionally drill to avoid the wetlands and transition areas, I don't need a permit?

A: Only if you can prove that there is no surface disturbance of any freshwater wetlands, transition areas, or State open waters and there is no draining or dewatering of freshwater wetlands.

Q: How do I know if there is a freshwater wetland, transition area and/or State open waters?

A. You may apply for a Letter of Interpretation from the Division, however a definitive decision may not be available to you from the Department until a GP2 has been applied for.

Q. Is mitigation required?

A. Yes, there is a requirement for mitigation for the filling/ disturbance of 0 .01 acres of freshwater wetlands or greater for a GP2.
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Last Updated: January 16, 2018