Permitting for streamside and lakeside properties may differ from those that are located along a marine shoreline. An overall review of permitting procedures is covered in Guideline 10. One difference between streamside and marine shoreline properties is the width of the buffer required. In most cases, stream buffers are measured horizontally from the edge of the ordinary high water mark (OHWM) or top of the stream back if the OHWM cannot be determined. The setback may differ significantly in different counties and cities since they each have their own regulations. It is best to check with your local planning department to determine this information, and anything else that is required by your local government’s Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) or the Shoreline Master Program, which covers marines shorelines, larger streams, wetlands, and lakes.
When applying for a permit to do work in or along a stream or lake, you may also need to go through the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) process. Thousands of HPAs are issued each year for activities ranging from work on bulkheads, piers, and docks to culvert replacement and mineral prospecting. WDFW administers the HPA program under the state Hydraulic Code, designed to protect fish life. WDFW Habitat Biologists are available to help people and groups apply for an HPA and ensure their projects meet state conservation standards for aquatic life. If you are unsure whether you need an HPA for your project you can contact a WDFW Habitat Biologist in your area for help.
The state’s Hydraulic Code Rules (Chapter 220-110 WAC) identify projects and activities that require an HPA, ranging from bulkhead construction to mineral prospecting. Refer to Guideline 10 for a list.