RAPID/Hydropower/New York/Water Access & Rights

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New York Hydropower Water Access & Water Rights(19-NY)

In New York a hydropower developer must comply with the State's riparian water right system and may need to obtain a Protection of Waters Permit from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in order to disturb the bed or banks of a protected stream, construct or repair a dam or other water impoundment structure, or excavate or place fill material into navigable waters of the state. The developer should consider the project’s water access requirements and whether the project encroaches on a water resource to ensure compliance with federal and state law.

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Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.


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Permitting at a Glance

Water Right Classification: Riparian Rights
Water Right Agency: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Is a Water Right Required for the Project? A project may need a Protection of Waters Permit if the project requires modifying or disturbing the course, channel or bed of any stream or removal of any sand, gravel or other material from the bed or banks of a stream. N.Y. Env. Cons. L. § 15-0501(1)-(2); New York – Protection of Waters Program.
Defined Terms: "Stream" is defined as "that portion of any fresh surface watercourse, except lakes or ponds having a surface area greater than ten acres at mean lower water level" including "small ponds or lakes with a surface area at a mean low water level of ten acres or less, located in the course of a stream" N.Y. Env. Cons. L. § 15-0501(1)-(2).