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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 | Authorization |Applicable Rules


Overview

General permit 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. 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 (see N.J.A.C. 7:7A-5.4).

Application Guidance

This page is for informational purposes only. Please see N.J.A.C. 7:7A-7.2 for the precise rules concerning this general permit. Limitations:

  1. Total permanent above-ground disturbance above 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 feasible 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. Mitigation is also required for disturbance of less than 0.1 acre unless the applicant demonstrates to the Department that all activities have been designed to avoid and minimize impacts to wetlands.  A mitigation proposal, if not submitted with the permit application, must be submitted no later than 90 calendar days before initiating regulated activities. Mitigation must meet the substantive and procedural requirements of N.J.A.C. 7:7A-11.

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  the requirements of the appropriate Soil Conservation District; and
  5. Ensure that any pipes laid through wetlands do not interfere with the natural hydraulic characteristics of the wetland, such as the flow characteristics of groundwater on the site by ensuring pipes are:
    • Properly sealed so as to prevent leaking or infiltration;
    • Designed so it does not form a conduit for groundwater to be discharged or drained from the wetland; and
    • Placed entirely beneath the pre-existing ground elevation to allow free passage of surface and ground water
      1. Alternatives to subsurface placement are allowed if the applicant shows that placing some or all of the pipe above ground would be more environmentally beneficial.

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.  If you intend to apply for multiple freshwater wetland general permits, be advised that there are strict limits on combining permits, with a 1 acre cap on disturbance for any one project site for most combinations (see N.J.A.C. 7:7A-5.4).

All freshwater wetland general permits must comply with all applicable requirements at N.J.A.C. 7:7A-5.7, Conditions applicable to an authorization pursuant to a general permit-by-certification or a general permit , and N.J.A.C. 7:7A-20.3, Establishing permit conditions.

Note: The Department has, for your convenience, developed an Application Checklist for general permit 2. Please follow carefully the requirements as outlined on this checklist to ensure that you have all information necessary to complete and process your application.


Getting a GP2 Authorization: 

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.  If you intend to apply for multiple freshwater wetland general permits, be advised that there are strict limits on combining permits, with a 1-acre cap on disturbance for any one project site for most combinations (see N.J.A.C. 7:7A-5.4).

All freshwater wetland general permits must comply with all applicable requirements at N.J.A.C. 7:7A-5.7, Conditions applicable to an authorization pursuant to a general permit-by-certification or a general permit, and N.J.A.C. 7:7A-20.3, Establishing permit conditions.

Note: The Department has, for your convenience, developed an Application Checklist for general permit 2. Please follow carefully the requirements as outlined on this checklist to ensure that you have all information necessary to complete and process your application.

 


Rules

The rules cited in our standard approval letter under "Permit Conditions" for this general permit can be found below.

  • N.J.A.C. 7:7A-7.2 General permit 2--Underground utility lines
  • N.J.A.C. 7:7A-5.7 Conditions applicable to an authorization pursuant to a general permit-by-certification or a general permit
  • N.J.A.C. 7:7A-20.2 Conditions that apply to all permits
  • N.J.A.C. 7:7A-20.3 Establishing permit conditions

N.J.A.C. 7:7A - Link 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 Administrative Code. 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, see How to Get a Copy of Department Rules

 

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Last Updated: June 8, 2018