Pre-application Meeting - Wetlands and Inland Lakes and Streams

Contact: District Permit Staff

Michigan's legislature amended Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams and Part 303, Wetlands Protection, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended, to establish a voluntary process for meeting with DEQ's Water Resources Division (WRD) staff prior to submitting a permit application under Parts 301 and 303.  The purpose of a pre-application meeting is to obtain information about a proposed project that may impact wetlands or inland lakes and streams early in the planning process in order to minimize planning costs and delays.  Any landowner, or person authorized by a landowner, may request a pre-application meeting with WRD staff.

Where are the pre-application meeting forms? 

How do I schedule a pre-application meeting? 

Pre-application meetings for Inland Lakes and Stream (Part 301), Wetlands Protection (Part 303) and Critical Dunes (Part 353) are requested through MiWaters.  For the Wetland Restoration Early Coordination Meeting Request form, follow the instructions on the form. 

You may choose whether you wish to meet in the district office or on the project site.

If you need to cancel a pre-application meeting, you may do so up to 24 hours (not including weekends or holidays) prior to the scheduled meeting with a full refund.  Or, you may reschedule the meeting if you provide at least 24 hours advance notice.  In the event that WRD staff do not attend a scheduled meeting, the fee will be refunded and the meeting will be rescheduled within ten (10) days.

When should I request a meeting? 

In order to make the best use of time at your pre-application meeting, you should have a clear idea of your overall project goal and the proposed location.  This will allow staff to review existing information about the proposed site and to understand your project needs.  However, you may want to meet with staff before you have decided on a particular design or layout.   Some requestors may wish to prepare a draft permit application prior to meeting WRD staff for review during the meeting.  While this may be helpful in completing an application, it is not required.

When your planning reaches the point where you need to know more about the potential limits of your site that may arise due to wetlands or inland lakes and streams - it is a good time to talk to WRD staff.  This point will be different for each applicant.

What will happen at the meeting? 

If you have additional information that was not submitted with your request, such as a draft permit application, preliminary plans or drawings of your project, or photographs of the site, bring it to the meeting.  You may also bring a consultant or other representative (who may also attend the pre-application meeting alone on your behalf if you prefer).

WRD staff will ask you to explain what you want to do and where.  They will provide any information that they have about the site based on existing maps and information stored in DEQ databases.  If the meeting is held on site, they will walk the site with you to evaluate current conditions.

Staff will discuss what aquatic resources, including wetlands or inland lakes and streams, appear to be present on the site.  If enough information is available for them to do so, they will provide you with a written statement regarding the need for a permit for your project.  You will have an opportunity to ask questions regarding the regulatory process.  If you have a draft permit application, staff will answer any questions with you and point out deficiencies that could delay processing.  Staff may also point out issues relating to the aquatic resources that could be impacted as a result of your proposed project.

Staff may ask you about options you have considered so far to avoid impacts to aquatic resources, and may be able to suggest other ways of avoiding impacts.  They may also point out sensitive resource issues associated with the site, if any exist, and may be able to discuss what mitigation would be required if the project were permitted.

What questions will not be answered at a pre-application meeting? 

  • Staff will not delineate or confirm wetland boundaries during a pre-application meeting.  Due to the staff time and resources required, the WRD offers a separate process for evaluating wetlands on a site, the Wetland Identification Program. Thus, while staff may simply confirm during a pre-application meeting that wetlands are present, they will not confirm wetland boundaries.
  • Staff will not indicate during a pre-application meeting whether or not a permit will be issued.  The DEQ cannot make a decision regarding a permit until it has considered all of the information provided in the final permit application and, in some instances, has also considered comments received in response to a public notice of the project.  Therefore, staff cannot legally tell you in advance whether your project will be authorized.  They can, however, give you information that will improve the likelihood that it will meet regulatory standards, and thus be authorized, or they may also be able to identify issues which will be of significant concern.

What will happen after the pre-application meeting? 

  • The landowner or requestor will be provided with a written copy of the DEQ's findings regarding the need for a permit for the project if it can be determined from the information that has been provided, along with any other written comments or suggestions.  A written decision regarding the need for a wetland or inland lakes and streams permit typically requires an on-site meeting.  This written determination regarding the need for a permit is binding upon the DEQ for two (2) years.  The DEQ's written report will be sent to you within a few days of the meeting.
  • A project file will be established in the WRD tracking system.  The file number will be provided to the landowner or requestor to expedite future processing of the final permit application.