Pond permit, Why, and do you need one?

When building a pond and not checking to see if permits are required the costs will be a great deal higher than you will discover in the audio interview of Gene Clemente who is with the Erie County Conservation District of PA. Rules and regulations may be different in other states. Please check with your area to be sure of the regulations.

Click “PLAY” to hear the interview with expert Gene Clement!

Learning the rules
pump out the pond water

After deciding that you want to build a pond. First, check with your neighbors they may have children or pets that may be a concern to deal with. You never know your neighbors may help to build the pond. It is a good idea to start with your neighbors and work something out if necessary because in the next step is to check with your local government.

Throughout the process, ideally, you need nothing. But if a zoning ordinance or permit is required. Your surrounding area will be notified of the pond building. Then there are more people who can make it harder or easier for you to build a pond.

We went to our township building and talked with our zoning officer. And found out we may need a hearing to approve putting in a farm pond. Funny thing, in 13 years the zoning officer said we are the first to ask about a farm pond. Long story short, we got approval but took 1 1/2 months. Also did not need a hearing or permit.

The zoning officer had us call our insurance agent and the conservation district.

The insurance had no problem or listing for farm ponds.

The conservation district came out to do a visual check of the area where we wanted the farm pond. There was a wet spot most of the year and some different types of plants that grew there. This is what the conservation folks wanted to check out. To be sure it was not a wetland area. It was not.

I know this sounds like a lot of work but well worth the effort. Finding out later you built in a wetland or the neighbors complain, can and will cost more money than you didn’t count for.

Even when building a small backyard or Koi pond. Go through the process, you will learn more about what needs to happen and have that peace of mind that you are in the right.

Did You Receive Your “Definitive Guide to Ponds”? Grab it below.

About the Author: Darrell Rhoades is the founder of Whatpond.com. A one man business, works full time in tool & die. It all started when he built his own pond for the family. Ran into pond issues and started the research with pond suppliers and conferences for pond management. He writes about pond building and pond management and sells pond management supplies, aeration & fountains and Practical hands on experiences at Whatpond.com. . No physical store, but has items in stock.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • David Sturt Oct 20, 2010 @ 19:28

    Well, to build a farm pond, you are correct. If your area is a wet land area, you will not be able to build. But, in Virginia, one has to go through the U.S. Army, Corps of Engineer. The corp will issue a permit once all the paperwork is done. Paperwork? yes, and time you do the paperwork and get the permission and permit, this process will take you seven months. You will need to get a soil scientist to do a soil check and determine wet land involvement. This will be a company which the corp as approved, and this will cost you around $1200. Still what to build a farm pond? You will have to get the State Enviornmental agency to check out the site. Soil erosion of the County you live in will have to check also and provide you a permit. If the pond is for agricultural purposes, you will have no problem with State or County and the corp of engineers will be less paperwork to obtain the permit required. So, you see, just because you owned a piece of land and you pay taxes on that land, does not mean you can do whatever you like on that land. Does that sound more Russia?? And you say we live in a free country??? Its much involved. I just gave you a rough draft of what it takes. It would take me five pages to tell you all. But, first, get with the Corp of Engineers which covers your State. Federal, State, and locality (County) will have to give you approval; but the Federal overrides the rest but still have to get all approval. Yeah, after it is all done, you may get an approval notice within seven months once the paperwork starts. You may get approval to just dig a hole or you may get approval for a dam. Now, if you have a dam, keep it under the 25 ft height. If it goes higher, you got more red tape to deal with. The State will most likely be involved. Its amazing how much red tape you go through to get your pond built. Land of the Free. Think again! But, we have to blame ourselves by electing all those liberals who want to protect the environment. Yet, a pond will help the environment, wildlife, etc. Oh yes, you may need to go through your State Game and Inland Fisheries Dept about your pond also. How much government red tape can one go through?? With all the Environmental laws, be very careful where you dig. If you try to go ahead and start digging without all the approval process, you could be face with a heavy fine of up to $50,000 or five years in prison. Oh yeah, there has been farmers face with fines and possible prison time. Amazing! And that is how it is in the State of Virginia. Good luck with your pond. I went through much, but finally got my ten acre farm pond for agricultural purposes done. It you say it is for recreational use, you probably won’t get the permission. So, say it is for Agricultural purposes and you won’t have half the problem. This helps get around all the Federal red tape. So, see what a farmer has to go through. Didn’t know that did you! Farmers go through more in this country than most know. We are putting our farmers out of business. Our country Federal policy would rather import than export. We like to help all the other countries rather than help our own farmers in this country. And you say why everyone is so up in the air with the Tea party folks??!! Maybe we do need to take command of our country and throw all the bums out of Washington??!!! Nov 2 is coming. And you may see and big change. Yeah, the change that did not come as promised!?? Our Dept of Agriculture needs to be changed big time. Well, that’ all I can say right now. I get my blood pressure up just thinking about it! Have a great year and vote Nov 2.

  • Nick Jul 18, 2015 @ 14:49

    do I need a Permit To Build a Pond In the front yard?

  • Darrell Rhoades Jul 20, 2015 @ 4:24

    It really depends on where you live, what your local government, township, municipality or zoning says. Since you are asking about the front yard I can only assume you mean a small water garden type pond about 2000 gallons and not a earthen pond like a small 1/8 acre. I would still check with someone in your area to be sure. This way you are covered, if you need a permit or if you don’t need a permit. Also be sure to call the hotline number Call Before You Dig TO find out where your utility services are located so you don’t dig into the gas, electric, phone, cable and son on type of service going into the house. One mistake can be expensive, harmful or fatal depending on what service is damaged. when digging.

  • Ethel Sep 28, 2020 @ 10:01

    Will D.E.Q. help with digging a pond on land that has rain erosion??

  • Darrell Rhoades Sep 29, 2020 @ 2:48

    Best case is to ask them. Many years ago there had been incentives and help to build ponds but those days are gone.