​Updates to the Small Pond Approval Process​​​​​

​Significant changes have occurred in the small pond approval process in the State, due to the gap in technical review capability resulting from NRCS Bulletin 210-21-01. The Department supports local Soil Conservation Districts (SCDs) and the Department's designees as they work to ensure small pond review and approval can be carried out in accordance with state laws, regulations, and the Small Pond Approval policy. 

Important policies, forms, and guidance documents can be found below.

To obtain a Small Pond Approval from MDE, please complete and submit a Joint Permit Application along with supporting documentation.

Small Pond Approval Process P​​​​olicy

Pond Summary Sheet (Replaces MD-14)
Small Pond Design Review Checklist

Technical Review Affidavit
Template Small Pond Approval Document
As-Built Submission Checklist
As-Built / Project Completion Affidavit
Dam and Small Pond Approv​​​al Guidelines in Coldwater Resource Watersheds​


Where can I find background information on the change in small pond approvals?


An informative presentation describing the changes can be found at the following link:


Which SCDs are currently reviewing and approving small ponds?


Anne Arundel

Baltimore County​




Frederick / Catoctin




Prince Georges


Small pond applications in the remaining jurisdictions should be directed to MDE Dam Safety.

I heard NRCS is reviewing agricultural ponds, is that correct?


The Maryland NRCS engineering staff may be able to perform technical reviews for a small pond, if the pond is part of an approved Conservation Plan. In these cases the NRCS engineers will perform the review, and route the small pond approval through your local SCD. For more information, contact jacob.dieguez@usda.gov​​

Where can I find “MDE’s Policies and Procedures”?


The “policies and procedures” that supplement MD378 can be found here:


To ensure you are kept up to date on policies and other dam safety matters, please ensure you are subscribed to the MDE Dam Safety email list. Contact John.Roche@Maryland.gov to ensure you are added to the list. 

Where can I find training?

MDE will be offering quarterly “Office Hours” to discuss small pond topics, policy updates, and other non-project specific questions. Engineers are encouraged to seek out additional professional development training, which may be offered by organizations including the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, United States Society on Dams, American Society of Civil Engineers, and others.

Who can I reach out to for help interpreting a policy document?

Contact the Dam Safety Permits Division Chief, John.Roche@Maryland.gov with questions.

Who needs a Review Agency Agreement for the pond designs they review and approve?

In cases where SCD or NRCS engineering staff assist in the review of plans and analyses they are acting as an extension of SCD, and therefore do not need a Review Agency Agreement. Likewise, where MDE staff or MDE Designees review the pond, the agreement is not necessary.

The agreement is necessary where the SCD hires an on-call engineer, a private sector engineering firm, or a separate local or County agency. 

Who is required to sign Technical Review Declarations?

Review declarations​ are necessary in all cases where the Technical Reviewer is not directly employed by the SCD, NRCS or MDE (e.g., third party engineering firms, consultant reviewers, reviewers from other public entities). SCD and NRCS Technical Reviewers must be granted appropriate Job Approval Authority by the State Conservation Engineer (or their delegate).

What should we do with the Technical Review Declarations once signed?

Review declarations should be kept on file with the SCD, and submitted to MDE with the Small Pond Summary Sheet.

What does the SCD need to submit to MDE when approving a small pond?

Within 30 days of the end of each quarter (September 30, December 31, March 31, and June 30) in which the approval was granted, the SCD must provide to MDE a copy of the Small Pond approval, a small pond summary sheet, and a Technical Review Affidavit (as required).  This can be submitted to MDE via email: MDE.PondApprovals@Maryland.gov or by mail (Maryland Department of the Environment, Attn: Chief, Dam Safety Permits Division, 1800 Washington Boulevard, Suite 440, Baltimore, MD 21230).

When are As-Built affidavits and checklists required?

An as-built affidavit and completed checklist is required for all projects, regardless of review agency or approval entity.

When a pond retrofit is proposed, do all pond/dam deficiencies need to be addressed?


Yes - when a pond retrofit is proposed the engineer must perform an inspection of the dam structure and identify any deficiencies. These deficiencies must be addressed as part of the retrofit project.

What are the consequences when as-built information is not submitted?

By accepting a small pond approval, a dam owner is obligated to ensure that the necessary as-built information is provided to the SCD/MDE. If as-built information is not received in a timely manner, the matter will be referred to MDE Dam Safety for enforcement. MDE Dam Safety may pursue the owner to obtain the as-builts, and may refer the pond to the local SWM authority and recommend that the treatment not be accounted for because the pond construction cannot be verified.

Please forward any comments, thoughts, or concerns to Jennifer Smith, Program Manager, Stormwater, Dam Safety, and Flood Management Program, at jenniferm.smith@maryland.gov​, or John Roche, Chief, Dam Safety Permits Division at John.Roche@maryland.gov​

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