Dam Safety Permits

In accordance with Environment Article 5-503 any person planning to construct, repair or modify a dam or reservoir in Maryland must obtain a permit from the Department. Environment Article 5-503 includes a simplified process that exempts persons from the requirement to obtain a permit from the Department, provided certain criteria are met. The criteria are:

  1. Drainage area to the pond must be less than 640 acres;

  2. The height of the pond (measured from the upstream toe to the top of dam) must be less than 20 feet; and

  3. The dam must be a "low hazard" structure, the failure of which is not likely to cause loss of life or property damage. If your proposed project meets these conditions please choose "Small Pond Process" below.

For projects that do not qualify for the "small pond" exemption, applicants must submit a joint state federal application (Joint Permit Application​).  The permit application should include technical information (design plans, design computations and assumption, project purpose, benefits of the project, environmental impacts of the project and mitigation of adverse impacts, hazard classification of the dam, etc.).

The design plans must be prepared by a licensed professional engineer, experienced in dam design and construction, practicing in accordance with the licensure laws of Maryland. The Department also requires the applicant to retain a professional engineer (preferably the design engineer) to conduct quality assurance inspection during construction to certify that the construction was completed in accordance with the approved plans, specifications and permit conditions. This engineer is called the "Engineer-in-Charge" and must also submit "as-built" plans to the Department 60 day after the project has been completed.

As part of the application, the engineer-in-charge must submit an EIC Affidavit attesting to his/her qualifications and experience in dam design and construction. In addition, pursuant to Environment Article 5-508 (b) any condition imposed by the Department’s permit such as operation and maintenance of the dam, implementation of an emergency action plan, or minimum flow releases, binds the owner and future owners of the property. Therefore, the Department requires a document to be completed by the applicant which acknowledges that a dam or reservoir has been constructed on the property. The document, called a "Memorandum of Land Restrictions for Dam or Reservoir", includes the location of the dam, the legal description of the property, the permit file number and the effective date of the permit. The document will be recorded by the Department in the land records of the county in which the dam is located. The applicant is responsible for the recording fees.


Contact Information

You may also call us at (410) 537-3538.  Our mailing address is:

Dam Safety Division
Water and Science Administration
Maryland Department of the Environment

1800 Washington Boulevard, Ste. 440
Baltimore, Maryland 21230-1708