What is the purpose of this approval?
Any form of work that uses, diverts, obstructs, or changes the natural flow or bed of any fresh water or saltwater of the state, requires a Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Permit processing can take up to 45 days following receipt of a complete application package. WDFW offers an efficient online permit application system, called the Aquatic Protection Permitting System (APPS) that can be accessed at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/hpa/. A complete application package for an HPA must include a completed application, general plans for the overall project, complete plans and specifications of the proposed work within the mean higher high water line in salt waters or within the ordinary high water line in fresh waters of the state, complete plans and specifications for the proper protection of fish life. You must also provide notice of compliance with any applicable requirements of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).
Who issues this approval?
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)
What activities require this approval?
Work that uses, diverts, obstructs, or changes the natural flow or bed of any of the salt or fresh waters of state.
Includes bed reconfiguration, all construction or other work waterward, under and over the ordinary high water line, including dry channels, and may include projects landward of the ordinary high water line (e.g., activities outside the ordinary high water line that will directly impact fish life and habitat, falling trees into streams or lakes, bridge maintenance, dike construction, etc.)
Where can I get the application for this approval?
The application is called 'Hydraulic Project Approval
' is online and can be accessed at https://wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/environmental/hpa
Do I need to include anything with my application?
Yes. Your application must include general plans for project, complete plans and specifications for the proposed construction or work within the mean higher high water line in salt water or within the ordinary high water line in fresh water, and complete plans and specs for the proper protection of fish life. You must also provide notice of compliance with any applicable requirements of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). Applications for streamlined processing of fish habitat enhancement projects must additionally include a copy of the JARPA, the fish habitat enhancement project application form, and proof of sponsorship of the project.
Is the decision on my approval dependent on anything besides the information in my application?State Environmental Policy Act
(SEPA) compliance must be completed prior to review of your application and issuance of the HPA by WDFW. SEPA compliance is not required for an expedited, emergency, or a fish habitat enhancement streamlined HPA.
How long will it take to review my application?
It is dependent on the type of HPA
How long is my approval valid?
Up to five years for a standard HPA; up to 60 days for an expedited HPA; the length of the emergency for emergency HPAs.
What is the appeal process for the approval?
Informal and formal appeal processes are available to the applicant or other aggrieved parties, but must be filed within 30 days of notice of receipt of issuance or denial of HPA.
Notes / Comments:Note
Alternatives to the APPS system are identified at https://wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/environmental/hpa
Current pamphlet HPA's include Aquatic Plants and Fish pamphlet for aquatic plant control projects, and the Gold and Fish pamphlet for mineral prospecting permits.
Pamphlet HPAs are free, do not require submittal of a written application, are for the protection of fish life and contain specific project requirements and duration. They are issued under specific statutory authority.
Permit Timeliness Results
Permit Timeliness data collection is in response to a State Auditor’s Performance Audit and RCW 43.42A. Each regulatory agency developed a plan to improve permit clarity, predictability, and timeliness. Each agency considers the customers experience to ensure permit assistance is simple to use, easy to access, and designed in a customer-friendly manner. Agencies report progress to the Governor’s Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance (ORIA). ORIA prepares and distributes reports, with participation from the State Auditor’s Office and Results Washington. See latest report here: https://www.oria.wa.gov/ORIA-2020-PermitTimelinessProgressReport.pdf.
All permits submitted for reporting were entered into this Regulatory Handbook. Here are the results of the performance data:Estimated Time Required By the Agency to Process a Permit Application (Definition)Average number of days from Receipt to Complete: 12.2Maximum number of days from Receipt to Complete: 790Estimated Time Required By the Agency to Issue a Permit Decision (Definition)Average number of days from Complete Application to Decision: 24Maximum number of days from Complete Application to Decision: 119
(Summary results based on 2026 submittals in 2023)
Where can I get permitting assistance?
Web page URL: http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/hpa/
Helpdesk phone: (360) 902-2422 or APPS.Help@dfw.wa.gov
Subject matter expert phone: (360) 819-6527
Subject matter expert email: Hannah.Faulkner@dfw.wa.gov