Typical Projects

Typical Projects

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Bulkhead Repairs

Bulkheads are vertical retaining walls intended to hold soil in place, stabilizing a bank or shoreline. Replacements and repairs of bulkheads typically follow the existing grade and requirements of the original structure.

To conform to regulation, bulkhead repairs, when complete, should be “in-kind” and “in-place” – that is, the repair does not alter the size, shape, or placement of the structure. Preferably, there should be little or no extension waterward (towards the water) from the existing structure. If you cannot avoid waterward expansion, you must consider the effect on the aquatic environment.

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Bulkhead Repair Project Details

Permits You’ll Need

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps)

Permits needed

Army Corps generally allows the repair of existing, previously authorized, currently serviceable bulkheads under its Nationwide Permit #3 (“Maintenance”). A Nationwide Permit generally takes less time to process than a standard individual permit.

First steps

Applicants planning a bulkhead repair project should first submit a Joint Application to the Army Corps so that reviewers can determine: a) whether your project meets the Nationwide Permit thresholds, or b) whether an individual permit is required.

Learn more: Army Corps permitting

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC)

Permits needed

Some combination of the following NYS DEC permits are generally required for bulkhead repairs:

  • Tidal Wetlands or Freshwater Wetlands
  • Protection of Waters – Excavation & Fill in Navigable Waters
  • Section 401 – Clean Water Act – Water Quality Certification
  • Coastal Erosion Hazard Area – depending on location

Projects compatible with Standard Activity Permit (SAP) review

The easiest and most efficient path to obtaining a permit is the submission of an application for a project that is designed to be compatible with NYS DEC policies and land use regulations. NYS DEC has identified waterfront activities that conform to agency standards as Standard Activity Permits (SAPs). Bulkhead repair projects that involve and are limited to the removal of a lawfully existing, functional bulkhead and replacement with a similar structure in the exact location or landward of the former structure are compatible with agency (NYSDEC) policies and land use regulations, and are therefore classified for review as a Standard Activity Permit.

First steps:

  1. Obtain or update an existing site conditions map or property/site survey of the property. See NYS DEC’s Drawing Checklist for Bulkhead Projects for recommended survey content.
  2. Check on the legal status of all existing shoreline structures and resolve outstanding issues/disputes.
  3. Prepare and submit a Joint Application with required NYS DEC materials. To find out what to include in the application, see NYS DEC’s Waterfront Activities Application Checklist. Note that application document and drawing requirements are the same for all bulkhead projects, regardless of SAP status.

Learn more: NYS DEC Permitting

New York State Department of State (NYS DOS)

Possible review

A NYS DOS Coastal Zone consistency review is required only if any one or more of the following are true:

  • The proposed repair of the bulkhead involves any waterward expansion (even if the expansion is less than 18 inches)
  • There is an increase in the footprint for the repair or replacement
  • There is any placement of in water fill
  • Placing fill behind the bulkhead does not warrant a DOS review

Learn more: Coastal Management Program

New York City Department of City Planning (NYC DCP)

Possible review

A NYC Waterfront Revitalization Program (WRP) consistency review is required only if a NYS DOS consistency review is also required (see above).

Learn more: NYC Waterfront Revitalization Program

Related Permits

Related Permits

Bulkhead repairs may require other permits, such as:

  • Waterfront Construction Permit – NYC Dept. of Small Business Services

For more information, see: Related Permits

Project-Specific Application Requirements

The following are some specific application requirements for construction and maintenance of bulkhead structures.

Project Description

If your bulkhead repair will result in any waterward expansion beyond the current limits of the existing structure, you must justify the purpose and need of the expansion. (Note that in this case, your project will be treated as a new shoreline stabilization project and may not qualify for the type of permits discussed above, such as a Nationwide Permit from Army Corps. It may also then require mitigation of unavoidable impacts to the environment, and an individual permit from the Army Corps.)

Guidelines on Drawing Information/Content for Bulkhead Projects

See NYS DEC’s Drawing Checklist for Bulkhead Projects for a list of what to include on each drawing listed below:

  • Drawing Set Cover Sheet (recommended for projects with numerous drawings)
  • Site Location & Vicinity Map
  • Site Photos and Photo Location Map
  • Existing Site Conditions Map
  • Proposed Site/Project Plan
  • Cross Sections and Details

Agency Contacts

Army Corps

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NY District
Regulatory Branch, Room 1937
26 Federal Plaza
New York, NY 10278-0090

Phone: (917) 790-8511
Fax: (212) 264-4260


Regional Permit Administrator
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Region 2
1 Hunter’s Point Plaza
47-40 21st Street
Long Island City, NY 11101-5401

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (718) 482-4997
Fax: (718) 482-4975


Consistency Review Unit
Office of Planning and Development
New York State Department of State
Suite 1010
99 Washington Avenue
One Commerce Place
Albany, NY 12231-0001

Email: [email protected]
Phone (518) 474-6000
Alternate: (518) 474-6572


Michael Marrella
Director of Waterfront and Open Space
New York City Department of City Planning
120 Broadway, 31st Floor
New York, NY 10271

Email: [email protected]
Phone (212) 720-3626


Project Design

Guidelines for Design of Structures along NYS Coastlines
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
General guidelines

Protection Against Wave-based Erosion
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
A technical guide

Urban Waterfront Adaptive Strategies
New York City Department of City Planning
An in-depth study on alternative approaches to shoreline stabilization in New York City

Maintenance and Repairs

Extract: Tidal Wetlands Guidance Document Link
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Guidelines by the NYS DEC on functional waterfront structures, including precise definitions and alternatives to in-place replacement and repairs. See the section on “Replacement of Hard Shoreline Stabilization Structures”