Pond construction/reconstruction/repair activities in Maryland are regulated under the Maryland Environment Article Section 5-503. A permit is required from the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) "to construct, reconstruct, or repair any reservoir, dam, or waterway obstruction, to make, construct, or permit to be made or constructed any change or addition to any reservoir, dam, or waterway obstruction, to make or permit to be made any change in, addition to, or repair of any existing waterway obstruction, or in any manner to change in whole or part the course, current, or cross section of any stream or body of water within the State, except tidal waters."
However, the law provides for the approval of small ponds by a soil conservation district under certain conditions. Generally, a person is exempt from the requirements of obtaining a permit from the Department of Environment if:
--> The pond meets minimum standards for safety set forth in Department rules and regulations. (USDA, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Maryland Conservation Practice, Standard Pond Code 378 (January 2000)).
--> The contributory drainage area is less than 1 square mile (640 acres).
--> The dam is not greater than 20 feet in height, measured vertically from the lowest point on the top of the dam to lowest point on the upstream toe of the dam.
--> The pond is a low hazard structure the failure of which is unlikely to cause loss of life or property damage.
As a result of workload issues and availability of engineering assistance, the Garrett Soil Conservation Districts ability to provide USDA, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Maryland Conservation Practice, Standard Pond Code 378 (January 2000) compliance review in a timely manner is limited. Landowners may consider the option of working directly with MDE for pond construction and repair approval.