The Division of Water Resource Management (DWRM) issues permits for work in and along the rivers, lakes and streams of the state, for activities in and along the public waters, including Lake Michigan, and for the construction and maintenance of dams.
Generally, the Division issues an individual formal permit to the applicant to demonstrate compliance with the rules. In some cases, the Division has issued statewide, regional and general permits to reduce paperwork for the applicant. The statewide and regional permits describe a general project type and set limits on the scope of the work. If the proposed work meets all the specified limits, the project is approved under the statewide or regional permit. For projects covered by a statewide or regional permit, one does not need to submit a permit application.
General permits similarly cover a specific type of project and are limited in scope. For projects covered by a general permit an application submittal is still required. Permit Applications and Instructions
The Division has four regulatory programs:
- Floodway/Floodplain Management
- Public Water Management
- Dam Safety
- Lake Michigan Management
Seven sets of rules have been adopted to administer these programs. The rules are referenced by their administrative code section numbers. You can check the status of a permit application below. If you need additional information, please contact the Water Resource Management Division.
January 15, 2014 a new Permit Application Fee went into effect. All applications and written inquiries received will be reviewed free of charge to determine whether or not the Public Water, dam and/or floodway work proposed requires authorizaton by the Department, so long as sufficient information is provided for the Department to make that determination.
Permit Fee Notice
OWR Fees FAQ
Statewide Mapping & Studies Reviews ( PDF )
Part 3700 - Construction in Floodways of Rivers, Lakes and Streams
The Division regulates construction projects that may impact the flood carrying capacity of the rivers, lakes and streams. These rules affect all streams and lakes except those in northeastern Illinois regulated under Part 3708.
All construction activities in the floodways of streams (the channel and the adjacent portion of the floodplain that is needed to safely convey and store flood waters) in urban areas where the stream drainage area is one square mile or more or in rural areas where the stream drainage area is ten square miles or more must be permitted by the Division prior to construction. Floodways have been delineated for many of these streams and appear on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Flood Insurance Rate Maps. Those maps are available for viewing at the local building and / or zoning offices and FEMA's Map Service Center .
If a floodway has not been previously delineated, the Division generally requires permits for work anywhere in the floodplain. A number of common minor construction activities regulated under the Part 3700 rules are automatically authorized by statewide permits. A permit application submittal to the Division is not needed for a construction activity that meets the terms and conditions of a statewide permit.
Part 3706 - Regulation of Construction within Floodplains
The Part 3706 rules now apply to just the lower Rock River below the mouth of the Green River in Rock Island and Henry Counties. Even in that area, the Part 3706 rules have effectively been superseded. The permit requirements for the lower Rock River are the same as for other downstate public water streams (see Parts 3700 and 3704).
Part 3708 - Floodway Construction in Northeastern Illinois
These rules are applicable in identified floodways in Cook (excluding City of Chicago), DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will Counties. The identified floodways are referred to as designated floodways and are depicted on the community's Flood Insurance Rate Map.
A permit is required for construction activities within the floodway of streams draining one square mile or greater in an urban area or ten square miles or greater in a rural area. To be eligible for a permit, the construction activity must be an appropriate use as listed in the rules. A permit cannot be issued for a construction activity that is not an appropriate use.
In general, the applicant must demonstrate that the appropriate use will not reduce floodway conveyance or storage, and will not increase velocities and flood heights. These rules also include requirements for revising the designated floodway boundary and / or flood profiles. Some minor construction activities regulated under the Part 3708 rules are automatically authorized by Regional Permit No. 3 .
Finally, these rules provide for the delegation of the permit review to qualified local units of government. A permit application submittal to the Division is not needed for a construction activity that meets the terms and conditions of Regional Permit No. 3 or can be permitted by a delegated community.
Public Water Management
Guidelines for the Submittal of applications for Permits for Shore Protection Projects in Lake Michigan.
Part 3704 - Regulation of Public Waters
The Division issues permits for construction and other activities in the public waters of the state, generally be described as the commercially navigable lakes and streams of the state and the backwater areas of those streams. A list of public waters is included in Appendix A of the rules and a map of the public waters is available.
There are certain public rights in the public waters that are reserved for the citizens of the state. The Division reviews proposed activities in public waters to ensure that the public's rights are not diminished by the activity and issues a permit to demonstrate trhat the activity does not in fact diminish the rights of the public.
Activities that require review are not limited to construction. A construction project in public waters will require review under the Part 3700, 3702 or 3708 rules as well as the Part 3704 rules. A number of common minor construction activities regulated under the Part 3704 rules are automatically authorized by statewide permits or by Regional Permit No. 3. A permit application submittal to the Division is not needed for a construction activity that meets the terms and conditions of one or more of these permits.
Part 3720 - Rules Establishing Horizontal and Vertical Clearances for Bridges Over the Fox River
These rules establish minimum horizontal and vertical clearances for bridges over the Fox River from the City of Algonquin to Illinois Route 173. The minimum horizontal clearance is 100 feet and the minimum vertical clearance is 15 feet above the normal pool. Any person or entity proposing to construct a bridge in that reach will be required to meet the applicable provisions of the Part 3704 and either 3700 or 3708 as well as the Part 3720 rules.
Guidelines for the submittal of applications for permits for projects in Public Waters.
Part 3702 - Construction and Maintenance of Dams
The Division issues permits for the construction, operation and maintenance of new dams and the modification, operation and maintenance of existing dams. Dams are classified by the Division based on hazard potential into one of three hazard classifications. All dams in the two higher classifications are required to have a permit under these rules. Dams in the lower hazard classification require a permit for construction or modification if they meet certain size criteria. Dams in the lower classification may qualify for authorization under General Permit 98-01 or General Permit 02-01.
Permits are also required for removing dams and transferring ownership of dams. Anyone proposing to construct a new dam is encouraged to submit a preliminary design report to the Division for a provisional hazard classification.
The "Procedural Guidelines for Preparation of Technical Data to be Included in Applications for Permits for Construction and Maintenance of Dams" publication, is available here.
The "Guidelines and Forms for Inspection of Illinois Dams" publication is available here . The inspection form is available in spreadsheet form.
Lake Michigan Management
Part 3730 - Allocation of Water from Lake Michigan
The Division also allocates water from Lake Michigan in accordance with Part 3730. Allocations are made through a hearing and order procedure. Entities receiving an allocation of Lake Michigan water receive an allocation permit. Additional material is available about Lake Michigan water allocation.