Agencies representing three levels of government (federal, state, and local) in Minnesota regulate certain activities that affect the course, current and cross-section of lakes, wetlands, rivers and streams.
- Federal - Army Corps of Engineers: Permit Programs under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act
- State - Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: Public Waters Work Permit Program
- Local - local government unit(s): Wetland Conservation Act
Work affecting the course, current, or cross-section of a lake, wetland, river or stream may require a permit from one or all of these agencies.
The DNR Public Waters Work Permit Program applies to those lakes, wetlands, rivers, and streams identified on DNR Public Water Inventory maps. The Wetland Conservation Act applies to nearly all wetlands not shown on the DNR Public Water Inventory maps. The Corps of Engineers regulatory authority generally covers all water and wetland areas, including those that are regulated by the DNR or subject to the Wetland Conservation Act.
Permit Applications for Most Projects Involving Lakes, Wetlands, Rivers and Streams
Dam construction/repair and most projects involving lakeshore or river alteration such as bridge/culvert installations, sand blankets, shore protection, channel excavation, etc., require a DNR Public Waters Work Permit and authorization from other governmental units. To apply for a Public Waters Work Permit, please use the MNDNR Permitting and Reporting System (MPARS).
Applicants can use the information entered into the MPARS to substitute for completing parts of the joint application form, which is used by other governmental units who regulate wetlands and waters (e.g., the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Local Government Units who administer the Wetland Conservation Act). No information provided as part of the MPARS application needs to be filled out again as part of the joint application form – just attach your MPARS application to the joint application form. However, the other regulatory programs may require additional information that is not part of the MPARS application.
If you are using MPARS for the first time, you will need to create an account. Once created, click on the link in the Actions box called "Apply for a New Permit/Authorization". You will be billed separately for the application fee (see fee rates). Please note that Minnesota Statutes allow local units of government 30 days to review permit applications and submit comments to the DNR.
MPARS is the easiest and most convenient method for most people to apply for Public Waters Work permits. If it is not possible for you to apply online, you may submit the paper joint application (Parts 1-5) to the DNR. Refer to the DNR Area Hydrologists contact list for information on where to send your application. Please note that the use of paper forms will not offer the efficiency or speed of the MPARS online process, and may result in the need for more follow-up with DNR staff to obtain needed information.
Application Fee Information
In many cases, a fee will be required in conjunction with your permit application. See the following:
- Federal: the Corps of Engineers will inform you of any necessary fee. There is no fee for general or letter-of-permission permits.
- State: the fee is calculated using the information found in the Public Waters Work Permit application fee form .
- Local: contact your local government unit(s) administering the Wetland Conservation Act (WCA) to determine if an application fee is required.