Guide Emergency Repairs in Wetland Resource Areas or Buffer Zones and Waterways

A guide to authorizing emergency repairs in sensitive areas.


Emergency work in wetland resource areas necessary for the protection of the health or safety of the citizens of the Commonwealth may be allowed in two ways.

  • First, MassDEP Wetland, 401, and Waterways regulations all allow for emergency authorizations to repair damaged structures from localized sudden or unforeseen events and when conducted by an agency of the Commonwealth or when ordered to be performed by a public agency. Work under these emergency provisions requires notice, public agency approval or directives, and issuance of an emergency certification by the conservation commission.
  • A second type of emergency authorization may result from severe storms that cause regional or statewide damage, such as ice storms or hurricanes. In such cases, MassDEP may issue emergency regulations that allow repair to storm damaged property without need for local approval. When emergencies regulations are issued for severe storms that cause wide spread damage, they will be posted to MassDEP's web site.

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Emergency Authorization Requiring Conservation Commission Review & Approval

  • Wetlands regulations, 310 CMR 10.06 (M.G.L. c. 131, sec. 40): The person requesting authorization must specify why the project is necessary to protect the health or safety of the citizens of the Commonwealth and what agency of the Commonwealth or subdivision thereof (e.g. municipal building official) is to perform the project or has ordered the project to be performed. Requests must be submitted to the municipal Conservation Commission. Any emergency work authorized by the Conservation Commission shall not include any work beyond that necessary to abate the emergency and must be completed within 30 days (or 60 days for Immediate Response Actions approved by MassDEP Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup). See 310 CMR 10.06 and the emergency certification process for rebuilding coastal dunes.
  • 401 Water quality regulations, 314 CMR 9.12: In the rare situation where immediate action is essential to avoid or eliminate a serious and immediate threat to the public health or safety or to the environment, a person may act without a certification, provided that the person obtains prior approval of the Department or authorization under M.G.L. c. 131, s. 40. Any emergency authorization issued by the Department shall not relieve such person from compliance with other applicable federal, state, and local requirements and approvals, including approval by the Corps of Engineers. See the provisions for emergency repairs under the 401 Water Quality Regulations.
  • Waterways regulations, 310 CMR 9.20 (MGL Chapter 91): In an emergency situation where swift and immediate action is essential to avoid or eliminate a serious and immediate threat to health, safety, or the environment, the Department may approve a project or portion thereof, without a license or permit, in accordance with procedures described at 310 CMR 9.20. Request must be made to MassDEP. See 310 CMR 9.20.

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