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Irrigation Pond Permit Application Process

Irrigation Pond Permit Application Process

The following guidance is offered for those persons considering developing an irrigation pond or impoundment. Typically, permits are required both from the Army Corps of Engineers (COE) and from either the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) or the Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC). Assistance with the irrigation water management plan may be available from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and/or the local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), subject to local priorities and workloads.

Permit applicants are required to demonstrate that all reasonable alternatives to impacting wetlands are considered. The guiding principals are Avoid, Minimize, and Mitigate.

STEP 1: Develop a whole farm irrigation water management plan. Include in the plan a detailed analysis of alternative water sources or sites. (Possible NRCS assistance)

The irrigation management plan is the master plan for water use. Typically, this includes the total number of acres to be irrigated, the amount of water needed, the potential sources of water, and a description of the water management practices that will be used to minimize water usage.

Very Important: Include in the plan a description and analysis of all reasonable alternatives. Alternatives might include sites with less wetland impacts, wells, impoundments on upland sites, or withdrawals form existing surface waters.

STEP 2: Applicant will review the permit application requirements for both the state and federal regulatory agencies.

STEP 3. Applicant will request a pre-application site visit by all of the responsible state and federal agencies.

A site visit is advisable in order that the permitting and review agencies (state and federal) may review the irrigation farm plan, view and discuss the alternative water sources and raise questions that may need to be addressed in the permit application. Mitigation requirements can be introduced here but will likely be determined only after the full permit application is received.

STEP 4. Applicant will complete and submit the permit application (include wetland delineation).

Choose the applicable state permit application form (LURC form for unorganized territories and the DEP application for organized townships). The COE will accept either one of these forms for the federal permit application.

It is important to work with both the state and federal permitting agencies through the entire process. The completed application can be submitted simultaneously to both the COE and the state. However, there may be some advantages to submitting to the COE first then to LURC or DEP after the COE permit is granted. This is because both state agencies require completed drawings by a professional engineer at the time of application. The COE requires completed engineering drawings only as a condition of a granted permit.

STEP 5. Applicant will complete USDA Swampbuster requirements for a wetland exemption.

In order to maintain USDA program benefits, a determination must be made that any wetland manipulation (Food Security Act label: Manipulated Wetland WX) will not make possible the production of an agricultural commodity. This is initiated by completing form AD-1026 at a FSA office.