Earth Disturbance E&S Plans and Permits

Earth disturbance is defined as  A construction or other human activity which disturbs the surface of the land, including land clearing and grubbing, grading, excavations, embankments, land development, agricultural plowing or tilling, operation of animal heavy use areas, timber harvesting activities, road maintenance activities, oil and gas activities, well drilling, mineral extraction, and the moving, depositions, stockpiling, or storing of soil, rock or earth materials.

When is an E&S Plan Needed?

  • The proposed earth disturbance activity will take place in an Exceptional Value (EV) or High Quality (HQ) Watershed or have the potential to discharge to these waters.
  • The proposed activity will result in a total earth disturbance of 5,000 square feet or more (some municipalities may require approval for earth disturbance below this threshold).
  • Earth disturbances of less than 5,000 square feet are still required to have a written plan on-site and install Best Management Practices (ex: silt fence, compost filter sock, stabilization).
  • Proposed earth disturbance requires a plan related to any other PA DEP regulation.

When is an NPDES Permit Needed?

  • Any activity resulting in one acre or greater of earth disturbance, over the life of the project.
  • Permits located in watersheds designated as High Quality and/or Exceptional Value require an Individual permit which will be reviewed by the Conservation District and DEP Southcentral Regional Office. This permit will be issued by DEP.
  • Permits located in all other watersheds will require a General permit, this is reviewed and issued by the Conservation District unless otherwise instructed by DEP.


Please contact one of our Resource Conservation Technicians for further assistance.