About Hydraulic Project Approvals (HPAs)

Washington law requires people planning hydraulic projects in or near state waters to get a Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). This includes most marine and fresh waters. An HPA ensures that construction is done in a manner that protects fish and their aquatic habitats.

What is a hydraulic project?

A hydraulic project is construction or other work activities conducted in or near state waters that will “use, divert, obstruct, or change the natural flow or bed of any of the salt or fresh waters of the state.” (RCW 77.55.011(11))

The state's Hydraulic Code Rules (Chapter 220-660 WAC) identify projects and activities that require an individual HPA. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Aquatic plant removal and control (outside of Aquatic Plants and Fish pamphlet rules)
  • Beaver dam removal or modification
  • Boat ramps and launches
  • Culverts and bridges (new, repair, and replacement)
  • Docks, piers, ramps, floats, and buoys
  • Dredging and sand/gravel removal
  • Log placement, repositioning, or removal
  • Suction dredging (beginning November 1, 2019) and mineral prospecting outside of Gold and Fish pamphlet rules
  • Outfall and tide gate structures
  • Pond construction
  • Stream bank protection, bulkheads
  • Stream channel relocation and realignment
  • Utility crossings and test boring
  • Water diversions and intakes

Our habitat biologists can help you through the application process.

Emergency HPAs

“Emergency” means an immediate threat to life or property. Only the governor, WDFW, or a county legislative authority can declare an emergency. In such cases, WDFW can provide immediate verbal approval prior to work (RCW 77.55.021(12)). Please contact us:

During normal business hours: (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.) - Contact your local habitat biologist or WDFW regional office

Outside of normal business hours: Call WDFW's 24-hour Emergency Hotline 360-902-2537.

What is the penalty for working without an HPA?

State law allows WDFW to issue fines of up to $10,000 per violation of Chapter 77.55 RCW. You may also be subject to penalties for a gross misdemeanor under per RCW 9A.20.010(2). To protect fish and avoid penalties, be sure to obtain an HPA and follow its requirements before you work in or near the water.

Learn more about HPAs